August 9th, 2007
11:00 AM ET
14 years ago

Americans worried about bridge collapses

WASHINGTON (CNN) - More than half of all Americans are worried about the collapse of a bridge somewhere in the United States. That, according to a new CNN-Opinion Research Corporation poll released Thursday.

But only one in three Americans are concerned that a bridge that they drive across regularly will collapse. 69 percent are not worried.

The new numbers come just eight days after an interstate highway bridge in Minneapolis, Minnesota collapsed into the Mississippi River. At least five people were killed in the collapse.

Only one third of those we polled favor increasing the tax on gas to pay for bridge inspections and repairs. The federal program to inspect and repair bridges is funded mostly by the federal tax on gasoline. 65 percent of those we questioned are against raising that tax.

CNN Polling Director Keating Holland says, “Polls sometimes show that the public is willing to accept higher taxes to pay for popular projects, but not in this case. With the price of gasoline hovering around three dollars, it may not be surprising that Americans don't want to pay any more at the pump, even though they worry about bridge safety.”

At a news conference Thursday morning at the White House, President Bush dismissed raising the federal gasoline tax at least until Congress changes the way it spends highway money.

- CNN Deputy Political Director Paul Steinhauser

Filed under: Uncategorized
soundoff (18 Responses)
  1. Matt, Pittsburgh, PA

    This is the first bridge collapse (that was not from other events) in 24 years and only 5 people have died. The bridges may not be in the best of condition, but what are we supposed to do about older bridges and structures, in general? Are we going to repair/replace all the bridges? Then, are we going to repair/replace all the old structures, such as high rise buildings? There would be no end to this repair and replacing structures. This was a freak occurrence; although, it is a shame, this should not be at the top of the priority list right now.

    August 9, 2007 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  2. David Chappell Lake Oswego, Or

    On Thursday President Bush said that he does not favor a hike in the Federal Gas Tax to help pay for the nation's overworked and largely forgotten infrastructure. Taxes are the "price of admission" for living in a free and functioning society. Everyone screams foul when the issue of taxes is raised, yet everyone wants a safe, reliable route to get from point A to point B. I have no objection to paying more at the pump for improved roadways and bridges. What I do object to is paying $1.50 more a gallon (than before Big OIl ran the White House, remember that?) that is soaked up by the oil company's record quarterly profits. How about this novel approach; let the oil companies rebuild our infracture with it's excess profits. Without a sound infrastructure they're out of business.

    August 9, 2007 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  3. R Schier Norwalk, CT

    "This is the first bridge collapse (that was not from other events) in 24 years and only 5 people have died. The bridges may not be in the best of condition, but what are we supposed to do about older bridges and structures"

    Only 5 people, huh ?????? What if it was you. Must be a Bush fan; just pretend it's an isolated event and walk away a week later. Bush doesn't want a nickel tax, as he scared his oil
    friends might lose a few sales, and also states he has a "problem" w/ how
    highway money is spent? What a farce...where was he all along on this?
    He didn't seem to mind his Alaskan buddy's obnoxious waste of millions upon millions to build a bridge for the
    sake of literally a dozen people. There should be a dollar per gallon tax, to serve two purposes: regulate the demand of vanity infested ignoramuses that have to drive 4 ton tanks around in order to impress,
    and in turn pay down the debt that will ultimately bring this country to its knees anyway. Personally, I'm on
    a plan to retire away from this place,
    as I'm not going to be left here to turn out the lights....

    August 9, 2007 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  4. David Martin, Houston, TX

    What we build cannot last forever. In fact, most structures are designed for a life-span of less than 50 years. We are pushing many of the structures built in the post-WWII building boom past their designed life-span. We must get serious about replacing or rennovating much of that infrastructure. That, of course, will mean higher taxes. But that is life.

    As for Mr. Chappell's suggestion that Big Oil pay for the infrastructure with "excess profits," he needs to realize that the profit margin for oil companies is typically around 10%, which is much lower for that of other industries. The reason oil companies make such profit is due strictly to the huge volume of oil and gas we consume as a world. It is easy to target "Big Oil," because of large profits, but they also have huge capital expenditures. For example, a new refinery can cost billions, and the cost to drill a well offshore in deepwater is about $1 million a day (and not every well hits oil or gas). The truth is that all companies (and citizens) use our transportation system in one form or another. Have you ever passed a Wal-Mart or McDonalds truck on the roadway? What about that package you received from UPS?

    Everyone needs to chip in to help replace our ageing infrastructure, and if it means higher taxes then that is the price we have pay to live in an industrialized, mobile society.

    August 9, 2007 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  5. mark giles lewisville north carolina

    we pay enough taxe's already why should the tax payer foot the bill this country gives billions of dollars in aid every year not to mention the billions per month its costing for the iraq war yet we can't even look after our own citizens who live in the usa with all the money that this goverment seems to waste we could have a great health care system and repair this countrys infastructure if the goverment does not seem to care then why should we care

    August 9, 2007 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  6. James, NY, NY

    The findings for this are not surprising at all. People think that politicians in general suck but always seem to think their politician is not the problem. Too many people have the "It's a problem somewhere else" syndrome.

    August 9, 2007 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  7. Audrey Wolz, Kaneohe Hawaii

    After the recent bridge collapse, there is talk about increasing the tax on gas to repair bridges around the country.

    I have an idea, instead of increasing the gas tax, how about ending the war in Iraq, which now costs American taxpayers approximately 10 billion dollars per day!

    Money spent on current failed military operations in Iraq would be better utilized reparing our bridges, and also fixing other long neglected areas of our crumbling infrastructure, such as our roads/highways, sewers systems, power plants, railroads, and the like.

    August 9, 2007 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  8. James, NY, NY

    People who have issues with gasoline prices need to keep in mind the fact we import a large part of our gasoline. That is gasoline, not oil.

    People need to learn how supply and demand works. If supply is interrupted on a product like oil, prices go up. If the supply is greater then the demand prices go down. It's not physics, it is vastly easier to understand why profits are up.

    Also for those who want to scream about record oil profits I suggest you go back and look at there profits for the 90's before crying foul.

    If we pumped and refined the oil we have here prices would remain stable. If we continued to develop clean burning coal technology and used our own natural resources the price of energy in the US wouldn't not flop all over the place every time Nigerian rebels took over an oil rig. If we made use of nuclear power we would have ample amounts of electricity and not have power problems yearly in places like California. If we didn't place so many environmental restrictions on building roads maybe it wouldn't take years for road projects to be completed and for cost estimates to double over that time. And if we stopped exporting our jobs to other countries maybe we wouldn't have such a large unisured portion of the population.

    But as long as special interest groups and lobbyists have more influence with the government it isn't going to change.

    August 9, 2007 03:04 pm at 3:04 pm |
  9. Anonymous

    Keating Holland must be a fearful person. I don't worry about falling off a bridge. Revise your statements. Accidents happen, it's sad. These things will happen as we build cities and infrastructure. Read your poll again, it's about 75% against it.

    August 9, 2007 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  10. SP Clark, Chicago, Illinois

    If the Federal taxes we've been paying on gasoline had been returned to the States, then spent exclusively on road & bridge repairs, we'd be far better off than we are now.

    It's a double insult to be lining the pockets of the oil companies, then have the taxes we've been paying go for general revenue expenses rather than roads, bridges, & mass transportation.

    August 9, 2007 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  11. mike, nh

    hey matt,
    im going to go out on a limb here but are you a bush supporting,conservative republican?

    the fact that you are dead wrong about how long ago the last deadly bridge collapse was makes me think so.

    it was 20 years ago, not 24 like you claimed. there was a collapse on the n.y. state thruway that killed 10 people.

    and yes we are supposed to and we should be able to repair/replace all of the substandard bridges in our nation.

    if we took the 12 billion a month, (1/2 trilion total) that we are borrowing to go into bush's iraq debacle we could replace all of the bridges not just the sub-standard ones.

    shock and awe, isnt the only way we can spend our money, you know

    August 9, 2007 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  12. ReadBtwthlins

    CNN's headline screams
    "Americans worried about bridge collapses"

    Even though 69% feel safe driving over their bridges and 65 percent are against raising taxes for them.

    Bias proof in the pudding..

    August 9, 2007 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  13. James, NY, NY

    Hey Mike this Bridge has had issues since 1996. But wait wasn't Mr Bush elected in the 21st century.

    But I guess your just a dyed in the wool Kool-Aid Drinking Liberal who is capable of ignoring the fact that Clinton did just as little to improve the infrastructure as Bush and he wasn't funding a war. See how much name calling raises the intelligence level of your own views. It makes people seem that much smarter when they can call someone a liberal or conservative....

    August 9, 2007 06:28 pm at 6:28 pm |
  14. Tom, FOrt Walton Beach, FL

    There are over 100,000 bridges in this country, each of the larger ones have several thousand crossings per day. There is an extremely remote chance you're going to die in a bridge collapse. The chances of dying in a plane crash is higher, and the chances of dying in a car accident is higher still. While the our transportation infrastructure needs work it isn't going to crumble next time you venture out there on that bridge you cross every day.

    August 9, 2007 07:39 pm at 7:39 pm |
  15. Pete, West Chester, PA

    I say we get rid of 2 interns/aides for every politician, that out to save a few billion. You know, they can get their own coffee or their own 8 squares of TP. Very good comment David Martin, it is nice to see someone that actually knows about the oil industry. I work for one and the amount of money it takes to run these projects is staggering. We haven't made money in months because of enviro regulations and taxes.

    August 9, 2007 09:25 pm at 9:25 pm |
  16. Matt, Pittsburgh, PA

    Hey mike from nh,

    My guess is you are a far left liberal that probably supported Al Gore and then John Kerry. That is my guess, which could be wrong, just like you going out on a limb with me being a huge Bush supporter. I just liked him more than anyone else—like most of America, apparently.

    So, what you are telling me is that in 20 years we have had 18 people die of bridge collapses? This is such an uncommon occurrence that we should not waste the money and time on it. There are so many other things that cause death to more than 18 people in 20 years that we could focus money on. But I suppose that if we did not use the money for bridges, you and your liberal friends would want to use it for something else that would be just as pointless. Maybe we could just give it to the French and let them decide how we should spend it!

    As for the war in Iraq, my guess is that you probably were for going to Iraq at the beginning and then changed your view later. Matter of fact, you are probably one of those people that wants to go to Dafur to help those people, and when they use Gorilla warfare against our military (like Iraq), you will change your view and yell and scream that we went there—unless, of course, it was your democratic president that made the call to go there. I am sick and tired of the people that want to do things but aren’t willing to stand behind their views and foot the bill.

    August 10, 2007 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  17. Carl, Dallas, Texas


    It's repairing current roadways, expanding them, and building future ones...

    BIG DEAL..

    Oh yeah, random fact... 25% of all funds going to the Transportation field go to public schools... so they are already hamstrung....

    August 10, 2007 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
  18. Pam A S'Side PEI

    Thankfully we don't have George for a leader.
    Our gas prices are a mere dollar and cents!
    Maybe our Tourism Industry will cash in this year with American Visitors.

    August 12, 2007 09:20 am at 9:20 am |