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A 400-foot section of the Leo Frigo Bridge, which carries I-43 over the Fox River in Wisconsin, has developed a sudden sag, according to a CNN report.

The sag is apparently caused by one of the support piers holding up the section sinking 2 feet further into the ground. The bridge, which carries an average of 40,000 cars per day, is closed indefinitely.

I can't say if this is a further sign of the crumbling infrastructure of this country. After all, this bridge is relatively new (it was built in 1980), and it was inspected and pronounced safe last year. On the other hand, while I do not claim to know anything about bridge inspection, it can't be easy to thoroughly inspect a 1.5 mile long, 80-foot wide, 200-foot high interstate highway bridge. It's certainly something you can't do quickly, not if you want to do it right.

Couple this with the fact that there are over 600,000 bridges in the United States, and you see what an almost impossible task it is to thoroughly inspect every bridge.

We are facing a crossroads in this country. Nearly 15 percent of those 600,000+ bridges are currently listed as either "Structurally Deficient" or "Fracture Critical", or, in thousands of those cases, both. Our electrical grid is so antiquated that something as simple as an overgrown tree can cause a blackout that darkened a quarter of the country, including its most populous city, for hours. And right here in my city of Toledo, a more than a century old sewer and water system is fraught with leaks that two months ago opened a sinkhole that swallowed a car and could have easily killed its driver - by drowning her!

Any number of solutions have been proposed to fix this multitude of problems. But these all require Government spending, which requires tax money, which requires raising taxes, which, in our current political climate, is about as likely to happen as John Boehner French-kissing Nancy Pelosi on the steps of the Capitol while simultaneously signing a pledge to never again accept a campaign contribution from any business or corporate interest or from anyone who makes more than $50,000 a year.

Okay, maybe I rode that metaphor right off the rails, but you get the idea.

Originally posted to ERJ1024 on Fri Sep 27, 2013 at 05:43 AM PDT.

Also republished by Community Spotlight.

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