Infrastructure

This Is the State With the Most Dangerous Bridges

Among the most important aims of the Biden administration’s legislative agency is to fix (which usually means to update and replace) vast portions of the nation’s infrastructure. This includes a wide array of projects, such as bridges, highways and broadband systems. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law has paved a way for these goals to be met.

The cornerstones of the ambitious plans are $52.5 billion in Federal Highway Apportionment and The U.S. Department of Transportation and Federal Highway Administration announcement to provide funding of $27 billion in funding to replace, repair and rehabilitate bridges.

Many estimates of the cost to repair America’s bridges are much larger than the money the administration will provide. The American Road & Transportation Builders Association analyzed the Transportation Department’s 2021 National Bridge Inventory and found that 36% of America’s bridges need major repair work. The organization’s total bridge count nationwide is 619,588. Of these, 43,578 are in a dangerous state and need to be repaired or replaced immediately.

One of the most pressing problems is that bridges are wearing out faster than expected. According to Axios: “Deferred maintenance, climate change and heavier-than-anticipated traffic are causing bridges to wear out earlier than expected, and engineers say not enough is being done to keep drivers safe.”

The report goes on to name specific bridges that are particularly dangerous. However, the major analysis is by state. The two yardsticks used are the number of structurally deficient bridges in each state and what percentage of all bridges this represents.

The state with the most structurally deficient bridges is Iowa with 4,504, which represents 18.9% of its 23,870. Only one state has a higher percentage of structurally deficient bridges. West Virginia’s inventory of these bridges is 20.5% of its total, but the raw figure is 1,490, much lower than the Iowa count.

To illustrate how bad the Iowa number is, note that the three states with the lowest percentage of structurally deficient bridges are Arizona, Texas and Nevada at 1.4%.

These are the 10 states with the most structurally deficient bridges:

State SD Bridges Total Bridges
West Virginia 20.4% 7,314
Iowa 18.9% 23,870
Rhode Island 17.5% 779
South Dakota 17.3% 5,886
Pennsylvania 13.8% 23,166
Louisiana 12.8% 12,782
Maine 12.6% 2,485
North Dakota 11.2% 4,285
Michigan 11.0% 11,284
Oklahoma 9.9% 23,220

Click here to read about the longest road in America.

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