Policy Memorandum - Transportation Structurally Deficient Bridges

Policy Memorandum - Transportation Structurally Deficient Bridges

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Section 1: Introduction Transportation for America, a policy organization, focuses on building grassroots supports for federal, state, and local government laws that run progressive transportation and land use policy. This organization publishes annual reports on the state of America’s bridges. In a fairly recent study, they found that more than seventy thousand American bridges classify as “structurally deficient.” A structurally deficient bridge needs major repair or replacement because it poses a risk to public safety (McIntyre, 2011). To qualify, a bridge must receive a relatively low score on an inspection based around certain components. Highway bridges have three components: the superstructure, which supports the deck; substructure, which uses the ground to support the superstructure; thirdly and lastly, the deck, which is the surface used by vehicles and pedestrians. Each component is rated on a scale of 0-9, with 9 being the best score a component can earn. If any part of the bridge earns a 4 or below, the bridge receives an unfortunate rating of structurally deficient (Shoup, Donohue & Lang, 2011). America’s infrastructure is starting to get old. This means that roads and bridges are in turn receiving an increasing amount of failing grades. The American Society of Civil Engineers awarded American bridges a D, an unsatisfactory and alarming letter grade. The interstate highway system, started in 1956, traverses several terrain types across America. This broad span on terrain types creates a high demand for bridges. The average lifespan of a bridge is 42 years (Shoup, Donohue & Lang, 2011). Many of the bridges in the United States exceed this average and are currently in desperate need of repair and replacement. Over 25% of Pennsylvania’s
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bridges are technically structurally deficient, and more than half of the States have at least 10% of bridges that also qualify. Although 77% of the nation’s bridges are rural, the 23% in urban areas account for almost 75% of all bridge traffic. Since these bridges are in disrepair, they need to be replaced or fixed. This causes a major problem. Much of the problem arises from the cost involved with fixing such structures. Building, repairing, and replacing bridges is not a cheap task. The table shows how much repairing these bridges would actually cost. The Fix We’re In For: The State of Our Nation’s Bridges, 2011 If repairing bridges is put off, the cost of repairing increases by about $10 billion each year, and the allotment for repairs only increases about $100,000 (Shoup, Donohue & Lang, 2011) . Having the money to perform these replacements and repairs is the predicament at hand. If funds were available, more bridges would be repaired or replaced in order to create a safer way of travel.
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Section 2: Constitutional Basis for Action The Constitution of the United States is the second most important document in our nation’s history following only the Declaration of Independence. The Constitution officially set
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Policy Memorandum - Transportation Structurally Deficient Bridges

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