At the existing pace of bridge repair and replacement work, it will take 37 years to remedy all the nation’s current structurally deficient bridges, according to a report released by the American Road & Transportation Builders Association.
The United States has 612,677 bridges, but 54,259 of them are rated “structurally deficient,” meaning they pose a risk to the millions of drivers passing over these structures on a daily basis.
These are the findings of the recently released 2017 report by the American Road & Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA), which for years, has tracked the condition of the country’s many aging bridges. The average age of a structurally deficient bridge in the United States is 67 years, compared to 40 years for non-deficient bridges.
According to ARTBA, Iowa (5,067), Pennsylvania (4,173), Oklahoma (3,234), Missouri (3,086), Illinois (2,303), Nebraska (2,258), Kansas (2,115), Mississippi (2,008), North Carolina (1,854) and New York (1,834) have the most structurally deficient bridges, while the District of Columbia (8), Nevada (31), Delaware (39), Hawaii (66) and Utah (87) have the least.
Inspectors regularly check bridge decks and support structures for deterioration and immediate maintenance. They are rated on a scale of zero to nine – with nine meaning the bridge is in “excellent” condition. ARTBA said a bridge is classified as structurally deficient and in need of repair if the rating on a key structural element is four or below.
ARTBA warned that at the current pace of bridge repair and replacement work, it will take 37 years to remedy all the nation’s current structurally deficient bridges.
President Trump is expected to raise the issue of the nation’s transportation infrastructure needs during his State of the Union address this evening. During the past year, the administration has suggested introducing a 10-year, $1 trillion spending plan for the nation’s infrastructure.
“An infrastructure package aimed at modernizing the Interstate System would have both short- and long-term positive effects on the U.S. economy,” said Alison Premo Black, ARTBA’s chief economist, in a statement.
She added that traffic bottlenecks cost the trucking industry alone more than $60 billion a year in lost productivity and fuel, which “increases the cost of everything we make, buy or export.”