Battered Bridges

Vehicles rest on a collapsed section of the I35W bridge in the Mississippi River August 2, 2007 in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Getty Images/Scott Olson
This column was written by CBS News Early Show co-anchorHarry Smith.

Every couple of months, some news organization will run a story about the crumbling infrastructure in the United States.

The American Society of Civil Engineers says that nearly 30 percent of the bridges in the U.S. are structurally deficient or functionally obsolete. You heard that right. One-third of the bridges in the U.S. should have a sign that says, "Use At Your Own Risk."

No one knows why the bridge over the Mississippi River collapsed in Minnesota Wednesday evening. But while some reports say the bridge passed inspections, one report suggested that it had significant problems and should be replaced.

Just hours before the bridge collapsed, Sens. Chris Dodd of Connecticut and Chuck Hegel of Nebraska introduced legislation that would pump billions into improving roads, wastewater systems, and mass transit. But here's the catch: How much would the cost be? More than $1.5 trillion a year.

Is it worth it to you?

Harry's daily commentary can be heard on many CBS Radio News affiliates across the country.

By Harry Smith