According to the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), out of the United States’ 600,000 bridges, one in nine is not in sufficient condition to handle current logistics routes. Recent bridge collapses in Washington state, Wisconsin, and Minnesota have shut down major trade thoroughfares, and the downgrading of some bridges in the state of Pennsylvania has led to trucking companies and suppliers having to reroute loads, which adds significantly to the costs of shipping goods along those routes. Armstrong Industries, a tile making company in Marietta, Pennsylvania recently reported to The Wall Street Journal that their drivers are soon going to be forced to take a 25-mile detour due to a nearby bridge that is expected to be downgraded. This rerouting will cost the small company an additional $300,000 per year in shipping costs.
The ASCE says it will take an extra $3.6 trillion to fix U.S. infrastructure problems, giving the nation an overall infrastructure report card grade of “D+.” However, bridges and roads were not the only critical problems on the list, as the group also gave the country poor scores for railways, ports, and inland waterways. Neglect of maintenance could lead to logistics problems in these areas, but the issue with the bridges is having the most immediate impact on the shipping industry. About 68 percent of the United States’ freight uses those bridges to get where they’re going.
One proposed solution is raising the taxes on gasoline to pay for road and bridge repairs, which has not been done on the federal level in two decades. However, since many of the affected bridges and roads are owned and maintained at the state level, raising federal gas taxes isn’t going to address the entire issue. Many of the states affected are in an even worse financial position to fix their transportation infrastructure than is the federal government.