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60 Minutes Highlights Crumbling American Infrastructure Just In Time for the Holidays

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Pittsburgh, one of the most glaring examples of our nation's crumbling American infrastructure

Pittsburgh, one of the most glaring examples of our nation’s crumbling American infrastructure

If you have family in Pittsburgh, you might want to have them come to your home for Thanksgiving this year. The rusting of the Steel City and its aging bridges was one of the topics highlighted in last night’s episode of the long-running CBS news magazine program 60 Minutes, which took an in-depth look at the country’s crumbling American infrastructure.

“Our roads and bridges are crumbling, our airports are out of date, and the vast majority of our sea ports are in danger of becoming obsolete,” said correspondent Steve Kroft, “all the result of decades of neglect.” (Boy, going over the river and through the woods to grandmother’s house never sounded so risky.)

If you’re a Dolphins fan who turned your TV off in disgust after Miami blew it and fell to Denver 36-39, here’s what you missed.

Pittsburgh, known as “the City of Bridges,” is perhaps in the worst shape of any city in America (one of the city’s crumbling archway bridges actually has a barrier built underneath of it, just to catch falling concrete and keep it from hitting traffic below). On the other side of the Keystone State, drivers aren’t much safer in Philly, where a vital section of I-95 would have collapsed recently if not for the fortuitous fact that a couple of contractors parked underneath the overpass to get some sausage sandwiches and noticed one of the support beams had almost reached its breaking point. 60 Minutes reports that 300 bridges become structurally deficient each year in Pennsylvania, which is probably in the worst position of any state – although every major city in America has its fair share of dangerously outdated roads and bridges.

The damaged section of I-95 in Philadelphia that was featured on 60 Minutes during their story on our crumbling American infrastructure

The damaged section of I-95 in Philadelphia that was featured in the 60 Minutes story on our crumbling American infrastructure Photo credit: CBS News

Our crumbling American infrastructure is in desperate need of a cash infusion, but repairs are funded by the gas tax, which hasn’t been raised since 1993. In today’s political climate, there aren’t many representatives in either party who will risk proposing any sort of tax increase. Yet the United States’ infrastructure – which used to be the best in the world – is now ranked 16th worldwide, below countries like Spain and Denmark (Denmark!). And if nothing is done, not only will our country’s ranking continue to fall, but our number of traffic fatalities will probably rise.

Would you pay more at the pump if it meant the roads and bridges you travel on every day would be made safer?