The tragic collapse of a Minneapolis bridge this week has demonstrated the need for immediate upgrades to North American infrastructure. The deadly collapse comes just weeks after Transports Quebec announced oversized loads will no longer be allowed to cross 135 bridges in that province.
And just yesterday, officials in Montreal announced a well-travelled bridge in that city is now off-limits to all truck traffic. For years, the trucking industry, through its various associations, has been appealing to government to inject cash into our aging infrastructure. For the most part, those pleas have fallen on deaf ears.
You can blame the public for that. Spending money on roads and bridges generally isn’t as sexy to voters as money spent on health care and education. But the neglect of our roads and bridges is beginning to catch up with us – and with devastating consequences.
Witness the collapse of the bridge in Minnesota where they’re still picking bodies out of the water. And last year’s collapse of an overpass in Laval, Que. that left five people dead. Despite the best engineering efforts of bridge designers, it’s inevitable that all things fail over time. Much of our infrastructure is already more than 50 years old – some of it much older. The Brooklyn Bridge, for instance, was built in the late 1800s and it is crossed by 130,000 vehicles per day. No structure has an infinite lifespan, especially if it’s not properly maintained. Yet we react in shock when a bridge fails and motorists are sent plummeting to their deaths.
Hopefully, the recent bridge catastrophes will serve as a wake-up call to government. Studies have suggested Canada needs to invest $100 billion into its existing infrastructure to bring it up to par. It’s time for all levels of government to open those purse strings.
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