The collapse of a county highway bridge in southeast Missouri on Saturday was almost certainly not due to structural defects. And the fact that this collapse came on the heels of a similar disaster in Washington state is unfortunate but not necessarily related. Yet it's just a plain fact that bridges in Missouri are aging rapidly and are in serious need of repair.
When the federal highway system expanded across the US in 1956 it brought with it a glut of new bridge
construction in Missouri. Hundreds of bridges were built in the 1950s and 1960s and most of them were only intended to be stable for fifty years. The clock is ticking on a lot of those bridges right now and transportation funding can't come close to meeting the demand for repairs. Between declining gas tax revenue, political gridlock and the aging bridge system, it's a perfect storm with no obvious solution.
This week I wanted to share a few links for all the reading types. Ryan and I do a lot of research for each episode and we can't get it all into the podcast. So if you want to know even more about why bridges are so messed up in Missouri, read on:
- Missouri's report card from the American Society of Civil Engineers
- The ASCE wrote a whole blog post just about how Kansas and Missouri got the same bad grade. Embarrassing.
- A cool map showing all of the 800 bridges fixed by the Safe and Sound program
- A breakdown of Missouri's budget
- This map shows you where the old bridges are in your neighborhood. It's a cool resource and I wrote about it here