Cross at Your Own Risk

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from TIME Magazine,

A wake-up call in Delaware.

Interstate 495 bridge over Delaware’s Christina River

Every day, roughly 90,000 vehicles cross the Interstate 495 bridge over Delaware’s Christina River to bypass downtown Wilmington en route to Philadelphia, New York City and Baltimore. Yet officials had no idea those drivers were facing serious danger until May 29, when an engineer who happened to be working nearby noticed two of the span’s support pillars tilting.

It was a lucky catch, and Delaware authorities acted on it, closing the bridge, fast-tracking repairs and ordering inspections of other spans. But with thousands of bridges in similar states of disrepair across the U.S., counting on serendipity is little comfort. More than 1 in 10 of the nation’s 608,000 bridges are structurally deficient, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation, which means they’re considered safe but in need of significant repairs. Fixing all the nation’s bridges would cost an estimated $106 billion, yet the wallet for it is nearly empty. The department says the federal fund for road and bridge projects will be depleted by September. (Congress is considering proposals to keep the spigot open.)


BROOKLYN BRIDGE, New York City, Year opened: 1883

GOLDEN GATE BRIDGE, San Francisco, Year opened: 1937

LIBERTY BRIDGE, Pittsburgh, Year opened: 1928

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