National Geographic : 1977 Mar
Country bridges... thousands are on the verge of collapse. Yet to repair all of them involves almost incompre hensible sums. What's the answer? The U.S. Dept. of Transportation re ports there are over 34,000 function ally deficient bridges on the Federal aid road system in the U.S. today. Many are old, rusting things, struc turally deficient, unable to carry to day's bigger loads. All too often a heavy load or flash flood will collapse one, endangering lives, interrupting traffic until the bridge can be repaired. Replacing all our old and obsolete bridges would prevent failures. But it would cost well over $10 billion ac cording to DOT. That's a big price tag. Particularly when many of these bridges are on lightly travelled coun try roads many of us never see. It's a problem we can't ignore. Bridges are vital elements in our ability to get farm goods to market, and deliver needed supplies to our farms. Rail abandonment programs and increased farm output have re sulted in a sharp increase in ship ments of farm produce by truck. Bad roads and long detours around condemned bridges increase trans portation costs. The cost is ultimately passed on to consumers in the form of higher food prices. Replacing all 34,000 deficient bridges at one time is not realistic. At the same time, modernizing key country roads and bridges must have a high priority in the nation's overall transportation program. Caterpillar Tractor Co. makes ma chines that build roads, pipelines, railroads, airports and waterways. We believe good rural roads are vital to our National well being. There are no simple solutions. Only intelligent choices. [ CATERPILLAR Caterplr. Catand areTrademarksof Caterpllar TractorCo. "It would cost a mint to replace every old bridge in the country."