Five years ago tomorrow, the Interstate 35 bridge in Minneapolis collapsed, a tragic catastrophe that shocked the state and the nation. Thirteen people were killed, 145 injured. The idea that the country's roads and bridges were being safely maintained suffered a big injury as well.
Today, after billions of state and federal dollars have been poured into repairs, the backlog of bridges that are listed as "structurally deficient" remains high, according to a report in the Star Tribune this week - 11.5 percent of all U.S. highway bridges in the U.S., as of 2010.
Inspections have increased since 2007, and the most dangerous bridges are being addressed, but the backlog remains.
There is little wonder at that. Highway and bridge replacement and repair are monstrously expensive. States like Minnesota have tried to finance the most needed projects, but putting off costly projects only makes them more costly to carry out in the future.
As the anniversary of the bridge collapse nears, the nation must look at this issue and decide, are we doing everythign we can to assure the safety of our millions of motorists?