Fixing US bridges will take 80 years if current rate of progress continues: report

A new report from the American Road and Transportation Builders Association said it will take 80 years to fix structurally deficient bridges if repairs continue at their current pace.

Of 616,087 bridges across the country, 47,052, nearly 8 percent, are “structurally deficient” and in urgent need of repair, according to the group, which advocates for transportation infrastructure investment. More than 235,000 bridges, or nearly 50 percent, need some form of repair.

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The report found Americans cross structurally deficient bridges 178 million times daily, many of them major landmarks such as the Brooklyn Bridge, the Memorial Bridge connecting the Lincoln Memorial with Arlington, Va., and the Robert S. Maestri Bridge over Louisiana’s Lake Pontchartrain.

The most-traveled bridges with deficiencies are on parts of Route 101, Interstate 405 and Interstate 5 in California, according to the report, and are crossed up to 289,000 times daily.

Iowa has the highest number of structurally deficient bridges, at 4,675, and the third highest percentage of structurally deficient bridges, at 19.8 percent, according to the report. Pennsylvania had the second highest raw numbers for deficient bridges, at 3,770, followed by Oklahoma, at 2,540; Illinois, at 2,273; and Missouri, at 2,116.

In terms of percentages, Rhode Island was No. 1, at 23 percent, followed by West Virginia, at 19.8 percent. South Dakota came in fourth, at 16.7 percent, followed by Pennsylvania, at 16.5 percent, according to the report.

“While these bridges may not be imminently unsafe, they are in need of attention,” the report states. “Nearly 69,000 bridges across the country are ‘posted for load’, which means there are weight restrictions or other measures in place to reduce stress on the structure.”