Protect Vulnerable Bridges From Collapse

Target: Pete Buttigieg, Secretary of U.S. Department of Transportation

Goal: Support fender retrofitting for older bridges across America.

When a cargo ship struck Baltimore’s Francis Scott Key Bridge in the early morning hours, tragedy resulted. Eight construction workers on the bridge fell into the waters below, and six are presumed dead. While no commuters were apparently on the bridge at the time, the tragedy could have been much greater if the accident had happened at a different time of day. The bridge was part of the busy Baltimore Beltway, and it will take an estimated two years and millions of dollars in costs to repair. Traffic in the area is likely to experience major disruptions for some time. Many experts believe the tragic circumstances could have been avoided.

Assessments have revealed that this bridge was one of 17,000-plus bridges in America that were deemed fracture critical. In other words, it would only take serious damage to one vital structure for the bridge to experience collapse. Modern bridges tend to have safeguards built into their structures that reinforce them against major collisions. One of the most prominent such safeguards is a fender system: a series of protective barriers built around a bridge’s supporting beams. The barriers may be made of substances ranging from rocks to concrete. The Francis Scott Key Bridge, like many older bridges, seemingly lacked any such barriers.

Advocates have called for fender retrofits on these aging bridges. Sign the petition below to support an investment that could save lives.


Dear Secretary Buttigieg,

This agency has pledged aid funds for the Francis Scott Key Bridge disaster, but this structure is far from the only one that needs urgent investment. A recent assessment found that a disturbing 17,000-plus of America’s 615,000 bridges are fracture critical and one tragic mishap away from the Francis Scott Key Bridge’s fate. If such a disaster were to happen during peak operating hours, you can imagine that the loss of life would be even more catastrophic.

Fender systems have been a staple of bridge construction for three decades. The Francis Scott Key Bridge (built in the 1970s), like many of its aging counterparts, lacked this critical defense. Please advocate for investment in fender retrofits on a national scale to avert the next transportation crisis and preventable tragedy.


[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: National Transportation Safety Board

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