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Washington Bridge Collapse Reminder of Need for Infrastructure Investment

The collapse of the Interstate 5 bridge over the Skagit River in Washington State on Thursday “is a sober reminder” to state lawmakers of the need for a transportation revenue package, says Washington State Labor Council (WSLC) President Jeff Johnson.

The bridge, about 60 miles north of Seattle, crashed into the river after an 18-wheeler carrying an oversized load hit a support girder, authorities say. Two cars with three passengers plunged into the river 60 feet below, but no one was seriously injured.

The I-5 bridge is one of more than 750 bridges in the state classified as structurally deficient or functionally obsolete. Says Johnson:

We need to invest in our infrastructure....We need to keep the public safe, keep our economy rolling and put folks to work. Partisan bickering over bills in the legislature needs to stop. It is time for the legislature to pass an operating and capital budget and a transportation revenue package.

Meanwhile, The Washington Post reports that public infrastructure spending—including roads and bridges—has plunged to its lowest level in 20 years.

The American Society of Civil Engineers' infrastructure report card estimates it would cost some $20 billion a year over the next decade to fully repair the nation’s bridges and that represents about a 60% increase in current spending. Bryce Covert of Think Progress points out that overall one in nine of the country’s bridges are rated structurally deficient and that the average age for the nation’s bridges is 42 years.

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