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Aging Infrastructure

September 28, 2007 • Volume 17, Issue 34
Is neglected maintenance putting Americans in danger?
By Marcia Clemmitt

Introduction

Vehicles are scattered on the I-35 West bridge between Minneapolis and St. Paul after it collapsed into the Mississippi River on Aug. 1, 2007, sending dozens of cars into the river and killing 13 persons.  (AP Photo/The Minnesota Daily/Stacy Bengs)
Vehicles are scattered on the I-35 West bridge between Minneapolis and St. Paul after it collapsed into the Mississippi River on Aug. 1, 2007, sending dozens of cars into the river and killing 13 persons. (AP Photo/The Minnesota Daily/Stacy Bengs)

The deadly collapse in August of Minneapolis' Interstate I-35 West bridge over the Mississippi River tragically underscored the condition of the nation's highways, dams, wastewater treatment systems, electrical transmission networks and other infrastructure. Many facilities and systems are 50-100 years old, and engineers say they have been woefully neglected. Decades ago taxpayers, lawmakers and private companies found it relatively easy to ante up the huge sums needed to build vital infrastructure, but money for repairs and maintenance has been far tougher to come by in recent years. Federal and state lawmakers today often prefer to spend public dollars on high-profile convention centers and sports arenas, and anti-tax groups often fight tax hikes or utility-rate increases to pay for maintenance. But now lawmakers are debating whether aging infrastructure merits higher taxes or other measures, such as turning more highways into privately run toll roads.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Highways and Roads
May 04, 2012  Distracted Driving
Sep. 28, 2007  Aging InfrastructureUpdated
Oct. 06, 2000  Drunken Driving
Mar. 12, 1999  Truck Safety
Jul. 14, 1995  Highway Safety
Oct. 09, 1981  Interstate Highway System at Twenty-Five
May 05, 1965  Highway Design and Beautification
Sep. 02, 1960  Progress of the Road Program
Mar. 06, 1957  Billboards and Roadside Controls
Dec. 13, 1954  New Highways
Jul. 25, 1939  Prevention of Highway Accidents
May 13, 1935  Elimination of Highway Grade Crossings
Dec. 24, 1932  Federal Highway Aid and the Depression
Apr. 30, 1931  Billboards and Roadside Improvement
Feb. 14, 1929  Toll Bridges and Toll Roads
Jul. 11, 1927  Ten Years of Federal Aid in Road Building
BROWSE RELATED TOPICS:
Federal Taxes
Motor Traffic and Roads
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