Tip Sheets

Bridge disaster exposes flaws in America’s critical infrastructure

Media Contact

Becka Bowyer

Baltimore’s Francis Scott Key Bridge collapsed early Tuesday morning after a support column was struck by a container ship. The collision sent at least seven cars into the Patapsco River.

Rick Geddes

Professor, Cornell Jeb E. Brooks School of Public Policy

Rick Geddes, infrastructure policy expert and director of the Cornell University Infrastructure Policy Program, says the bridge collapse highlights several critical issues.

Geddes says:

“This disaster reveals how exposed America’s critical infrastructure is to sudden and devastating accidents as well as intentional destruction. Improved resilience should be on everyone’s mind as aging infrastructure is rebuilt. Enhanced protection against ship-bridge collisions will certainly become more salient.

“Despite the injuries and potential loss of life caused by this disaster, it should be viewed as an opportunity to rebuild American infrastructure in a smart way, which includes new materials and designs to reduce the risk of future accidents, including sensors embedded in the bridge that communicate in real time with approaching ships.

“The bridge needs to be rebuilt not only better and smarter but rebuilt quickly. Maryland should use the same innovative delivery techniques used post-disaster in many other states, which is to utilize public-private partnerships (or PPPs) that bring in private incentives and expertise that put time and completion risk on the private partner.”

Cornell University has television, ISDN and dedicated Skype/Google+ Hangout studios available for media interviews.