The aging infrastructure of roads and bridges in America was in the spotlight last year when a bridge in Minneapolis collapsed, killing 13 commuters. Most of the country's transportation infrastructure of roads and bridges was put in place in the first half of the 1900s, but upkeep and rebuilding has been sporadic.
Ray Suarez traveled to Pennsylvania, the state with the most structurally problematic bridges in the country, for this report on what is being done, and needs to be done to prevent future catastrophes.
States face difficult decision over how and when to make expensive repairs - Pennsylvania's bridge repairs would cost a total of $14 billion. The state is calling on the federal government to help with the costs.
"States and local governments in this country pay 75 percent of the cost of maintaining our infrastructure. That's unlike almost any other developed nation, where the federal government pays the lion's share of the cost." Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell
"According to the Federal Highway Administration, more than 72,000 bridges across the country are in some sort of trouble." Ray Suarez, the NewsHour
"The interstate system is looking at the end of its useful life with literally trillions of dollars required to reconstruct that system." Timothy Carson, Vice Chair, Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission
"The American infrastructure, our transportation system was the envy of the world for decades and decades. Now it's laughable." Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell
1. What is infrastructure?
2. Who pays to build and maintain roads and bridges?
3. What forms of transportation do you and your family use most often?
1. How does it make you feel to know you could be driving over faulty bridges?
2. What are some of the factors that make it difficult for states to shut down and repair a bridge that has a problem?
3. Who should be responsible for paying to improve roads and bridges, the state government or the federal government? Why?
4. If you were a state leader and needed to prioritize the different spending costs for your state, how would repairing infrastructure rank against other costs like education, healthcare and emergency services?
5. Do you think it's fair to ask people who drive on a road or cross a bridge to pay a toll? Why or why not?