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June 30, 2021  

45,000 Bridges in the U.S. Are 50+ Years Old. And They Are Beginning to Fail.

June 30, 2021

Last month, the I-40 bridge connecting Memphis, Tennessee, to West Memphis, Arkansas, was closed unexpectedly after a large crack was discovered in one of the bridge's steel support beams. The closure has resulted in 40,000 vehicles being rerouted every day, turning a 10-minute drive across state lines into a three-hour slog through traffic. Unsurprisingly, the region's economic recovery has taken a hit as millions are being lost to the disrupted local and national supply chains.

A recent article in the Wall Street Journal, titled "One Failed Bridge in Memphis Is Costing Business Millions," covers this disquieting story. Across the United States, 45,000 bridges are in poor condition and 42% of bridges are at least 50 years old. I-40 is not just a Memphis problem; it's a national infrastructure crisis that will get worse and worse as more bridges begin to fail.

This week on Upzoned, host Abby Kinney and regular co-host Chuck Marohn "upzone" this looming crisis—i.e., they examine it through the Strong Towns lens. They discuss the implications of national and regional infrastructure failures, and why people need to become more interested in maintaining and effectively managing our aging infrastructure.

Then, in the downzone, Chuck talks about the recent staff retreat that he hosted in Brainerd, Minnesota, for the Strong Towns team. Meanwhile, Abby is reading a rather positive book about global trends and world history.

Additional Show Notes