More than 200 Great Lakes State Bridges on Critical List
Thursday, August 2, 2007
Posted by: Nancy Brown
Okemos, Mich. — In the aftermath of Wednesday’s tragic collapse of a major bridge in Minnesota, industry experts in Michigan warned today that more than 200 bridges in our state are at risk due to aging, wear and tear, and a significant shortage in transportation funding.
The eight-lane Interstate 35W bridge over the Mississippi River in Minneapolis was in the midst of being repaired when it buckled and collapsed during rush-hour traffic. At least seven people were killed.
“Our hearts go out to the families of those injured and killed in the tragic collapse of the bridge in Minnesota,” said Keith Ledbetter, director of legislative affairs for MITA. “While investigators have not yet determined whether structural flaws caused the collapse in Minneapolis, it is clear that too many bridges in our own state are in serious disrepair.”
Ledbetter added, “While we believe that the bridges here in Michigan are sound and safe to carry their current traffic, we should let the Minnesota incident serve as a wake-up call that we need to take action here at home to ensure that we have adequate transportation funding to maintain our aging infrastructure network.”
Last week, the Michigan Infrastructure & Transportation Association (MITA) released the state’s list of over 200 serious or critical bridges . Earlier this year, The Detroit News reported that Michigan ranked third worst in the country for the condition of its interstate highway bridges and 10th worst for all bridges according to the 2005 The Road Information Program (TRIP) out of Washington. The TRIP report estimated that 28 percent of Michigan’s bridges are either structurally deficient or functionally obsolete. This directly impacts safety and mobility due to weight restrictions, narrow lanes and other correctible factors. One in six bridges on the state’s critical list have no work planned over the next five years due to a lack of state funding.
Ledbetter said that the Michigan Department of Transportation is spending state road and bridge money as efficiently as possible and is a national leader in utilizing the latest technologies. However, the fact remains that many of the state’s bridges have been in existence for 50 years or longer and we do not have the money necessary to repair or replace them. The Minnesota bridge was 40 years old.
Ledbetter urged Michigan leaders to support MITA’s comprehensive plan for a dedicated and sustainable funding stream to make roads and bridges throughout Michigan safer, repair deteriorating streets, and relieve traffic congestion in rapidly growing communities.
The plan would increase the state’s gasoline tax three cents a year for three years. By 2010, the state’s gas tax would be 28 cents per gallon – the same rate as neighboring Ohio. A nine-cent gas tax phased in over three years represents little more than an inflationary increase since the last time the gas tax was raised 10 years ago. Currently, Michigan’s gas tax is tied for 30th in the nation. In addition to gas and diesel tax increases, the plan also includes a small hike in the vehicle registration fee.
With the estimated cost to reconstruct a bridge between $1.2 and $1.8 million, Michigan could rebuild between 55 and 80 spans with an additional $100 million in funding or repair up to 200 bridges at a cost of $500,000 to $700,000 each for the same amount.
MITA represents a broad spectrum of underground and highway construction companies and suppliers that help build a better Michigan infrastructure from the bottom up. They have been a leading voice for securing adequate funding at the federal and state levels for our transportation and clean water needs.