US Has Almost 56,000 ‘Structurally Deficient’ Bridges

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Nearly 36,000 bridges in the United States need repair. They have been deemed “structurally deficient” in the widely regarded American Road & Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA) Bridge Reports, the 2017 version of which has just been released.

The data were gathered from the 2016 National Bridge Inventory ASCII files, which were released by the Federal Highway Administration last month. The precise number of troubled bridges is 55,710.

Details of the report are troubling:

  1. List includes: Brooklyn & Throgs Neck (N.Y.), Yankee Doodle (Conn.), Memorial (Va.-DC) and Greensboro (N.C.) Bridges.
  2. 2.1,900 structurally deficient bridges are on the Interstate Highway System.
  3. Average age of a structurally deficient bridge is 67 years old, compared to 39 years for non-deficient bridges.
  4. 41% of U.S. bridges (250,406) are over 40 years old and have not had major reconstruction work.

More generally, the United States has 173,919 bridges, of which 28% are more than 50 years old. These have not received major “reconstruction work” over that period, according to the organization.

The state of repair by state varies widely, the report shows:

Iowa (4,968), Pennsylvania (4,506), Oklahoma (3,460), Missouri (3,195), Nebraska (2,361), Illinois (2,243), Kansas (2,151), Mississippi (2,098), Ohio (1,942) and New York (1,928) have the most structurally deficient bridges. The District of Columbia (9), Nevada (31), Delaware (43), Hawaii (64) and Utah (95) have the least.

At least 15 percent of the bridges in eight states—Rhode Island (25 percent), Iowa (21 percent), Pennsylvania (20 percent), South Dakota (20 percent), West Virginia (17 percent), Nebraska (15 percent), North Dakota (15 percent) and Oklahoma (15 percent)—fall in the structurally deficient category.

For a look at your state, check here. And for your congressional district, check here.

Methodology: To help ensure public safety, bridge decks and support structures are regularly inspected for deterioration and remedial action. They are rated on a scale of 0 to 9, with 9 meaning the bridge is in “excellent” condition. A bridge is classified as structurally deficient and in need of repair if its overall rating is 4 or below.