Bridges are important because of the practical, useful function they serve. Because a bridge is a major public works investment, planning it requires utmost attention. It is absurd and dangerous for public bodies to select bridge designers by low bid, as their purchasing agents would do with a typewriter or truck. Forty-one percent of our nation's nearly 600,000 bridges need major repairs or replacement immediately. In Colorado, there are 7,800 bridges, 2,450 of which are rated as structurally deficient or functionally obsolete. Yet budget provisions allow for corrective work on only about a hundred each year.
The American Concrete Institute (ACI) special committee on aesthetics has reported that "there is a growing perception that unsightly bridges are actually a form of pollution that may breed discontent and despair." To find out what are perceived as Colorado's most attractive bridges, a questionnaire was sent out to engineers, architects, contractors, and public officials. Thirteen of the top 25 "best-looking structures" were concrete. It is the author's opinion that not only should Colorado adopt a design program for cost-effective beautiful new bridges, but the state badly needs a plan to maintain those bridges already in place so they do not deteriorate to the point of no return.