You should be terrified of the Skagit River bridge collapse even if you don’t live in Washington

I’m going to keep this one brief because I should be finishing up a paper and am instead writing this post.

I’m currently on a short vacation in Colorado with three friends from in and around New York. We spent the day in Rocky Mountain National Park, and plan to do so again tomorrow. This evening, as we were eating dinner, one girl got a call from her mom, who told her that a bridge collapsed near Seattle and wanted to be sure we were all safe.

We’re all safe.*

But you might not be: the collapse of the I-5 bridge over the Skagit River did not come entirely as a surprise. Just two days ago, the Seattle chapter of the American Society of Civil Engineers released a report on bridges Washington. Noting that there are nearly 400 “structurally-deficient” bridges throughout the state, it awarded them a C-.

C- is pretty bad. I mean, you know all about grade inflation: nobody gets below a B anymore.** We knew bridges in Washington were terrible, and now one of them collapsed. How can anyone be surprised? Is this even news?

As it turns out, the American Society of Civil Engineers — the same organization that graded Washington bridges two days ago — also just released a report card for United States infrastructure as a whole. It awarded us a D+.

Uh oh.


*If you find yourself confused, remember this is New Yorkers we’re talking about.

**My apologies if you have ever received below a B. I am simply reporting the facts as they are reported to me. Yes I did just admit to sometimes reading Above the Law.


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