Coming up: Major bridge detours

(Photo: moonman82 / Flickr)(Photo: moonman82 / Flickr)

Most people who are aware of the inadequate funding available for America’s highways and bridges probably figure that deteriorating road surfaces will be the most common problem drivers face.

But maybe detours could challenge for the top spot first.

As funds for repairing and maintaining bridges continue to be very, very hard to find, and as so many of our bridges are structurally deficient or functionally obsolete (check out Better Roads’ latest national bridge inventory) expect weight limits and other limits–like time or day–on a lot of our bridges.

Pennsylvania is now going there.

And that means heavy vehicles will be wandering through side streets–including of course school busses–and you know what sort of frustrations that will raise for people in the vehicles and people living and working on those formerly quiet(er) roads.

What concerns me mostly is that this is a reasonably effective way to keep aging bridges working longer. While that sounds counterintuitive, what I worry is that politicians who refuse to seriously look for more money to go fix the bridges will leap on this as an alternative in a big way.

That means more heavy trucks using roads not usually used by those vehicles, kids taking longer to get to and from school, maybe emergency vehicles like heavy ladder trucks from your fire department having to go the long way around.

As this happens the public will sit up and take notice. This may be a good time to use Better Roads inventory of substandard bridges. Copy the link and send it to your local news outfits with a copy of the story from Pennsylvania. If they can find those substandard bridges in their circulation or coverage areas they might generate some stories that will help you help the local public better understand the need for funds.