Certainly nobody is predicting another bridge collapse like the one in Minnesota over the Mississippi River in August 2007 that killed 13 people and injured 145. But a new U.S. Department of Transportation survey of bridges nationwide shows there are more than 61,000 bridges in the U.S. badly in need of repair or replacement.
There are over 215 million daily vehicle crossings on these structurally deficient bridges, according to one estimate. But given the stalemate in Washington over new long-term funding for federal highway and bridge construction, many of these bridges are not likely to receive any attention in the near future.
An analysis of the new government data by the American Road and Transportation Builders Association found that the 250 most heavily used bridges in the poorest condition are on urban interstate highways, including many in California, and that about 87 percent of them are more than 45 years old.
Source: Transportation for America
“State and local governments are doing the best they can to address these significant challenges, given limited resources,” Alison Premo Black, an economist with the ARTBA, said in a statement.
Black says one bit of good news is that there are about 2,000 fewer structurally deficient structures than there were in 2013, according to ARTBA. But that still leaves more than 61,000 structurally deficient bridges in need of significant repair.
About a dozen states have delayed or canceled projects because of the uncertainty over future federal funding, Black said, and many are shifting around funds to address the most pressing bridge repair while cutting back on repaving decrepit highways or building new ones.
In eight states – Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, Iowa, South Dakota, Oklahoma, Nebraska, North Dakota and Maine – at least 15 percent of the bridges were rated structurally deficient.
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