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I-40 Bridge Crack Puts Spotlight on Nation’s Infrastructure

As reported by Nadia Ramlagan for Public News Service

Lawmakers are expected to make headway on President Joe Biden’s $2.3 trillion dollar infrastructure proposal this week, as Arkansas’ aging infrastructure made headlines with the discovery of a large crack in the Interstate 40 Hernando de Soto Bridge across the Mississippi River that led to its indefinite closure last week.

Ed Mortimer, vice president of transportation and infrastructure for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, said shipping and supply-chain disruptions will likely become more common if significant spending isn’t directed toward major transportation improvements.

“Because of our inadequate infrastructure at the moment, we lose $170 billion annually in lost productivity,” Mortimer stated.

Senate Republicans are soon expected to deliver a revised version of the proposal to the president.

Greg Regan, president of the Transportation Trades Department for the AFL-CIO, said the issue is closely tied to good jobs.

“I would say every single job in this country, at some level, is directly connected to our infrastructure system,” Regan asserted. “Whether it’s because people use it, or the people that build and operate and maintain it. And everybody suffers when we have this level of neglect.”

Mortimer added decades of underfunding and deferred maintenance have pushed infrastructure across the nation to the brink of failure.

“So we need to make these investments now,” Mortimer contended. “To make sure we are getting the best out of our national network, we’re competing in a global economy, and we have an improved quality of life for every single American.”

According to the American Society of Civil Engineers, driving on roads in need of repair in Arkansas costs each driver $671 per year. Around 5% of bridges are rated structurally deficient, and 193 dams are considered to be high-hazard potential.