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“Functionally obsolete” is a term that has been applied in recent months to structures ranging from the 35-year-old, 2.4-million-square-foot J. Edgar Hoover building that serves as the FBI’s headquarters in Washington, DC—which would be more costly to demolish than it’s worth—to the 49-year-old Brent Spence Bridge spanning the Ohio River between Covington, KY and Cincinnati. Neither edifice is in imminent danger of collapse; both have arguably outlived their usefulness, and what to do about them is a headache for government officials and the taxpaying public.

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