As many people wonder about the state of the bridges in the New York City region, in the wake of I-35 collapsing in Minneapolis, the city's Department of Transportation is trying to reassure residents that our bridges are safe. Though many bridges meet the definition of "deficient" - 19% of bridges are in "fair" or "poor" condition, 15% meet the federal definition of "structurally deficient" - a DOT first deputy commissioner Lori Ardito says, "In New York, we do not have any bridges that are structurally deficient."

Ardito explained the Brooklyn Bridge's poor rating, "There's only components of the bridge that are in poor condition. They're actually the ramps leading to the bridge, not the span of the bridge. If the bridge was deemed unsafe, we would have to close it." The components of the Brooklyn Bridge in poor condition include "rusting steel joints...deteriorating brick and mortar on its ramps...roadway deck on the Manhattan and Brooklyn approaches."

Regular people had mixed opinions: Calvin Thomas told the Daily News, "You don't know how they maintain these bridges. I can't tell by looking at it but I'm sure even this bridge needs maintenance." On the flip side, Jennifer Cain mused to the NY Times, "I think because it's been up for over 120 years, [the Brooklyn Bridge has] got to be safe." And Joe Rainer said to the Sun, "I probably have a better chance at Atlantic City than falling off that bridge."

The Post has an article about infrastructure with an interesting quote from former DOT assistant commissioner Sam Schwartz (who also appeared on the Today show):

The [free] Queensboro Bridge, which should be used by 110,000 vehicles a day, is used by 150,000 vehicles a day, and those additional vehicles come from the Midtown Tunnel and from the Triborough Bridge, with no revenue stream to fix the Queensboro Bridge.

"It's been crumbling, and all our bridges have been crumbling, because there has been no revenue base. So it's been bad for us to have those extra 40,000 vehicles pounding the bridge with no revenue stream to maintain the bridge."

Schwartz also believes that that no more than 1% of bridges should be structurally deficient (the statewide average is 9%), "It’s too hard to monitor all those bridges with greater frequency.”

The Post shows all bridges in fair and poor conditions with photographs, while the Daily News pinpoints them on a map. WCBS 2 had tips on how to escape a sinking car; there are some detailed instructions but an easy way to keep the principles in mind is "POGO: P -- Pop the seat belt; O -- Open the window; GO -- Get out." And the News' Michael Daly had a column titled, "Minnesota sadly gets a Ground Zero."

Currently, five people are confirmed dead from the I-35 collapse; about seven others are missing and presumed dead. Interesting: The Minnesota DOT was worried about cracking in the bridge and considered putting steel plates in the supports last year; but then it worried that bolting the plates would weaken the bridge.

Photograph of the Tappan Zee Bridge, which has a structure similar to I-35 and is not maintained by the DOT, mysticchildz on Flickr