One in 12 bridges in Illinois is “structurally deficient,” according to a report released by Transportation for America (TFA), a non-profit coalition out of Washington, D.C. Could these numbers indicate a bridge collapse story in our future? It’s hard to say. The bridge collapse last month on Interstate 5 in the Seattle area was not considered structurally deficient, whereas the bridge in the 2007 Minnesota collapse did carry the label. What we do know is that U.S. bridges are aging and collapses are occurring more frequently. And in Illinois, it is becoming more obvious that the overall condition of our bridges is waning. According to the TFA report:
• The number of substandard bridges in IL has risen from 2,239 to 2,311 since 2011;
• Illinois is among 16 states that saw an increase in deficient bridges since 2011;
• Statewide, 8.7 percent of bridges are rated “structurally deficient”; and
• Illinois is ranked 35th nationally for overall bridge condition (1 is worst, 51 is best).
As the quality of Illinois bridges continues to decline with age and use (on average, more than 8 million cars travel across Illinois’ deficient bridges every day, according to the TFA report), it makes sense that we could see an increase in bridge collapse accidents. Clifford Law Offices has spent decades representing the victims of unsafe premises and structural collapses. In 2012, the firm was hired by the family of a couple who was killed when a bridge collapsed and fell on their car in the Chicago suburb of Glenview. Clifford Law Offices continues to represent the family in the lawsuit.