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Mapped: Nearly 8,000 Future Job Sites in America?

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Experts say the work required to reinforce the US bridges most in need of repair could create 1.2 million construction jobs.

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'Gravity wins'

One striking -- and perhaps alarming -- feature about LePatner's case is that science is fully on his side. There's a consensus among engineers in the US regarding the need to fix the country's bridges. One year before the Minneapolis disaster, a local engineering firm had warned the state of Minnesota that the I-35W bridge needed reinforcement. The proposed price tag for the project was $15 million. The state said that cost was too high.

But such reluctance won't be tolerated for much longer, or so LePatner argues. Within the next few years, he thinks the situation will change. "I believe you're going to see initiatives because the word is getting out," he says.

Indeed, the Tappan Zee Bridge in New York now tops President Obama's list of 14 construction projects on a fast-track plan for approval. It's the only bridge on the list, however.

In the end, politicians will have to pay attention, says LePatner, because bridges will start cracking and sagging, forcing closures -- or worse. "Ultimately, gravity wins," he concludes. "Bridges fall."
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