The logistics industry in the United States relies on an intricate system of roads, rails, bridges and airports in order to move goods throughout our large nation. This expansive web our transportation infrastructure requires constant upkeep and maintenance to keep it function in a safe and effective manner. However, through policies and allocation of funds to other sectors, our infrastructure has come in to a state of disrepair.
According to Transportation for America, the average age of a U.S. bridge is 42 years. A bridge has lifespan of only 50 years; it is easy to see how we are reaching a tipping point. In only eight years, the average age of our bridges will exceed that of their safe operating age and many have not been maintained well throughout their life. Currently, 11 percent of bridges are considered “structurally deficient”, meaning they could potentially pose a threat to public safety due to their compromised structure. These bridges will ultimately need to be repaired or replaced. In 2009, it was estimated that it would cost approximately 71 billion dollars to return these bridges to a fully operation and safe state. This figure how been growing steadily year-by-year as our bridges continue to age
One major reason for our continued crumbling infrastructure comes down to clashing philosophies. There is a schism between agencies that favor building new versus fixing the aging. In 2008, the state governments spent 18 billion dollars, or 30 percent, of their federal highway funding on building new or expanding current highway. Only 8.1 billion, or 13 percent was on repairing existing roads and bridges. With figures like these, it becomes clear how something as important as roads and bridges can quickly become obsolete and potentially unsafe.
Funding is the key to combat this ever-growing crisis. For example, from 2006 to 2009, the allocation of highway funding increased by $650 million annually while the amount needed to repair structurally deficit bridges increased by $22.8 billion. It is clear that the funding is not keeping pace with the expenses. By 2030, the number of bridges over 50 years old are expected to double totaling 400 thousand of our nation’s 600 thousand bridges, the majority of which are on highly traveled interstates. As a nation, we are approaching a boiling point. Soon, the majority of bridges an American will travel on on a daily basis will be structurally unsound.
The logistics industry depends on these highways and bridges to operate. There are current 15.5 million trucks on the road today, of which 2 million are tractor trailers. The U.S. economy would halt to a standstill if these trucks were unable to operate. Annually, freight carriers transport 70 percent of all manufactured goods in the US; this figure exceeds one trillion dollars.