Is America's "Aging Infrastructure" a Concern? A look at the I-35W bridge collapse

Essay by james123089High School, 12th gradeA, April 2009

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Is America’s “Aging Infrastructure” a concern?The recent collapse of the Minnesota Interstate 35 West Bridge has raised concerns on the current condition and safety of America’s infrastructure. Many systems and structures in America are 50-100 years old, which many engineers believe are at risk. Should Americans be concerned about the state of America’s “aging infrastructure”?The biggest problem with repairing damaged bridges is finding sufficient funding. Years ago, companies found it easy to raise money for building; quite the contrary can be said about funds for repairs and maintenance today. Lawmakers have come to the conclusion that either of these two things must happen. Either higher taxes or implementation of privately run toll roads must occur to ensure the safety of infrastructure and the American people (Clemmitt).

The I-35 W bridge collapse was devastating. The collapse caused over 100 vehicles to fall into the Mississippi River and caused the death of 13 people.

On August 1, 2007, Gary Babineau drove over the I-35 W Bridge as it collapsed. Babineau described the collapse to CNN, “I saw the middle of the bridge just give way and cars just disappear and the ground just disappear under them.” (Babineau) After surviving the 30 foot fall, Babineau proceeded to get out of the car after what was left of the bridge settled and help a school bus of children get to safety.

The Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) inspected the I-35 W Bridge annually. In an inspection on May 2, 2007, there were minor concerns in regards to weld details. It was also reported that there was no imminent danger of failure. Prior to this May inspection was a more in-depth look at the bridge. In June 2007, the bridge was rated a four overall, in a scale of 0-9. Zero meant the bridge should...