Nationwide danger from structurally deficient bridges

Posted February 16, 2017

Almost 56,000 bridges nationwide, which vehicles cross 185 million times a day, are structurally deficient, a bridge construction group announced Wednesday.

The U.S. Department of Transportation has released the 2016 National Bridge Inventory, which indicates that 55,710 bridges are structurally compromised- including 13,000 that need replacement, widening, or major reconstruction.

In their findings, the organization says it means one or more of the key bridge elements such as the deck, super structure or substructure is considered to be in "poor" or worse condition.

That's good for second behind Iowa, which again led the annual report with 4,968, also an improvement for the state from previous year. The study found that 9 percent of them, or 609, are structurally deficient. The following list ranks states by the number of structurally deficient bridges, using the same data.

The report also calls out upwards of 1,600 bridges as functionally obsolete - meaning, in short, the design standards don't meet current guidelines.

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ARTBA Chief Economist Dr. Alison Premo Black says about 28% of the deficient bridges are more than 50 years old and have never had any major reconstruction work done.

"It is outdated, overused, underfunded and in desperate need of modernization", Black said.

Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao said during her confirmation hearing that the highway trust fund is "a huge issue" because it spends $10 billion more each year than it collects. Other heavily trafficked I-95 bridges in southwestern CT in the report include spans at the Saugatuck River in Westport and the Byram River in Greenwich.

President Donald Trump promised to revitalize US roads, bridges and airports within his first 100 days in office, proposing investments of up to $1 trillion.

The most vulnerable bridges, according to the ARTBA are at Iowa, Pennsylvania, Oklahoma, Missouri and Nebraska 4,968 identified bridges puts Iowa ahead of the other four states.