Bridge collapses may not seem like an everyday occurrence, but these catastrophic events could start happening with increased regularity if the country doesn’t start to invest in fixing our crumbling infrastructure. Experts at the American Society for Civil Engineers have said one in nine of America’s bridges is considered structurally deficient. America’s roads are filled with potholes and other damage from years of neglect, putting highway safety in question. Gas pipes from the Cold War era are exploding across the country, putting people’s lives at risk in the place they are supposed to feel most secure—their homes.
America’s infrastructure used to be the envy of the world. But with public spending on infrastructure reaching its lowest point since the late 1940s, many Americans are becoming concerned that public safety will be affected by not making infrastructure improvements a priority on a national level.
State and municipal governments, which typically account for about 75 percent of the nation’s infrastructure spending, have been forced to drastically slash their budgets, putting off desperately-needed repairs to bridges and roads. The Highway Trust Fund is operating on ever-thinning margins. In a recent infrastructure assessment, the American Society for Civil Engineers gave the country a D+ grade and estimated that it would take roughly $3.6 trillion to upgrade our crumbling infrastructure by 2020.
Studies have shown that the country’s failure to invest in these much-needed infrastructure repairs costs billions of us in lost productivity. But more importantly, what is the human cost of not spending more on infrastructure? According to the New York Times, hundreds of deaths, injuries, and illnesses are directly attributable to the devastation brought on by infrastructure failures such as bridge collapses, dam or road failures, or other structural failures.
“There is no question that there are safety impacts and loss of life because we didn’t take the time or spend the money to make infrastructure what it should be,” says transportation secretary Anthony R. Foxx.
How Concerned Should You Be About Potential Bridge Collapses?
Many of the bridges across the country were built decades ago. They were completed with the understanding that, by and large, most would remain in use for 50 years or less. So many of our bridges have passed that threshold by a wide margin, yet are still in heavy use.
At present, there is no official national record-keeper tracking the amount of deaths and injuries that occur each year as a result of infrastructure accidents like when a bridge collapses. However, the data that does exist on bridge collapses suggests that by not repairing old bridges, we are senselessly putting lives at risk.
Large Scale Bridge Collapses
One of the many bridges deemed ‘structurally deficient’ in 2007 was the Mississippi River Bridge in Minneapolis. The bridge was completed in 1967, which isn’t that old when compared to other bridges in the country that were built in the early part of the 20th century. During rush hour on August 1, 2007, the bridge gave way, killing 13 people and injuring 145 other people. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) conducted an investigation into the Minnesota bridge collapse, finding that a design flaw was likely the cause.
Then there was the 2013 Interstate 5 bridge collapse just north of Seattle, which miraculously didn’t leave anyone with life-threatening injuries. Like many others across the country, the bridge over the Skagit River had previously been deemed a “fracture critical” bridge prior to the collapse.
According to Barry LePatner, author of the book “Too Big to Fall: America’s Failing Infrastructure and the Way Forward,” there have been well over 600 bridge failures in the U.S. since 1989. While not all bridge collapses are national news, many are a danger to the traveling public, LePatner says.
Last February, Katherine Dean was on her way to the grocery store when she nearly lost her life. Dean was driving underneath a bridge on the Capital Beltway in a Maryland suburb when a large piece of concrete debris fell from the bridge and landed on the hood of her car, smashing her windshield. A split second could have meant the difference between life and death.
Bridge Collapse Lawyer
If you have been injured in a bridge collapse, you have legal rights. It doesn’t matter if you were working construction near the collapse site or just happened to be passing through when the bridge collapse occurred, you need to speak with an experienced personal injury attorney about your case as soon as possible.
Many bridge collapse cases are time-sensitive, so the sooner you are able to speak with an experienced lawyer, the better chance your case will have of being successful. If you are interested in speaking about your case with a lawyer experienced in bridge collapses, feel free to contact the law firm of Baum Hedlund Aristei & Goldman. You can also give us a call at (855) 948-5098.
Our firm offers free, no-obligation case evaluations for the victims of bridge collapses. Get in touch today to learn more.