"America's bridges are falling down and America's roads are crumbling," and the cost to repair them will run at least 50 percent more than the cost of the savings and loan bailout, a new study says.
Jake West, president of the International Association of Bridge, Structural and Ornamental Iron Workers, made the claim in a study, "Legacy of Neglect: America's Decaying Roads and Bridges.""The transportation infrastructure crisis will not disappear," West wrote. "By waiting to solve our infrastructure problems, our elected officials are jeopardizing the safety and economic future of all Americans. We must start developing new policies to fund these infrastructure proj-ects now, while there is still time."
The cost of rebuilding the nation's roads and bridges to a condition in which they can meet all the nation's transportation needs, West said, will require an investment of $748.5 billion, far more than the $500 billion the government estimates it will cost to bail out the failing savings and loans institutions.
West cited a June 1989 report to Congress by Transportation Secretary Samuel Skinner, which said half of all highways not receiving federal aid and one-third receiving federal aid are classified as poor or fair by his department.
The report also stated, West said, that of the 577,700 bridges in the United States, 41 percent are either deficient or obsolete, and of that 41 percent, 5,186 bridges are closed and 102,531 are classified as functionally obsolete.
The congressional report cited by West also estimated that more than 2,000 of the 851,000 miles of interstate highways must be rebuilt each year.
"The current level of government spending allocated to rebuild, repair and maintain our country's transportation infrastructure is insufficient to maintain a safe, reliable and efficient system of highways and bridges," West said.