Collapsed Bridge Outlines Other Infrastructure Woes

The bridge that collapsed over the Skagit River in Washington May 23 sheds light on other vulnerable structures in the state.

by / May 24, 2013
A car, lower right, and what is believed to be a travel trailer lie in the Skagit River with debris from the collapsed portion of the Interstate 5 bridge Friday, May 24, 2013, in Mount Vernon, Wash. A truck carrying an oversize load struck the four-lane bridge on the major thoroughfare between Seattle and Canada, sending a section of the span and two vehicles into the Skagit River below Thursday evening. All three occupants suffered only minor injuries. At an overnight news conference, Washington State Patrol Chief John Batiste blamed the collapse on a tractor-trailer carrying a tall load that hit an upper part of the span. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson) AP Photo/Elaine Thompson

The bridge that collapsed into the Skagit River in Washington state on Thursday night is not the only vulnerable structure in the state. According to the Seattle Times, more than 750 bridges in Washington received lower "sufficiency" scores than the now fallen bridge some 60 miles north of Seattle.

Federal records awarded the bridge 57.4 points out of 100 on its sufficiency scale, which is quite a bit lower than the state's average bridge rating of 80. But a full 759 bridges fared worse in the evaluation.

The Seattle chapter of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) released its 2013 Report Card for Washington’s Infrastructure on May 21, awarding the state's bridges an aggregate score of "C-." According to the report, almost 400 bridges in Washington are classified as "structurally deficient," and 36 percent of the state's bridges are older than they were designed to last -- 50 years. The Washington State Department of Transportation estimates that before the collapse, 67,000 cars crossed the bridge on a daily basis.

“Washingtonians need to realize that our ailing infrastructure hurts our wallets and our livelihoods," said James Chae,  president of the Seattle ASCE, in a statement released in conjunction with the report. "In fact, travel delays cost Washington State drivers and businesses more than $32 million hours a year, valued at over $1.1 billion annually.”

AP Photo/Elaine Thompson