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ARTBA Report: 1 in 3 US Bridges Needs Repair

Friday, February 2, 2018

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In its annual report on the state of bridges in the United States, released this week, the American Road and Transportation Builders Association says more than 54,000 of the nation’s span are deficient, and one in three has identified repair needs.

The number of deficient spans is down about 1,500 from last year, but still represents nearly 9 percent of all bridges in the nation, according to the analysis, based on federal data. At the current rate of repair in the country, ARTBA says, it would take 37 years to finish all needed repairs.

Steel Bridge
© / dlerick

The total number of deficient bridges in the country is down slightly, according to ARTBA, but making all the repairs currently necessary would still take 37 years.

In addition to national-scale statistics, the ARTBA report breaks down structurally deficient and functionally obsolete bridges by state, and lists the most-traveled deficient bridges in the country.

Busiest Deficient Spans

A newcomer to the list, the U.S. 101 bridge over Kester Avenue in Los Angeles, is the busiest structurally deficient span in the nation, according to the report. The 1959 bridge, which sees 289,000 crossings daily, was not listed as structurally deficient in past years.

Three of the top five most-crossed deficient bridges in the nation are in California, according to the report, and the other two are in St. Louis: I-70 east over Rt. 141, and I-270 east over Conway Road. The vast majority of the most-traveled bridges on the list are interstates or other freeways in urban areas.

Breakdown by State

Iowa and Pennsylvania once again lead the nation in total number of deficient bridges, with 5,067 and 4,173, respectively. In Iowa, that represents 20.9 percent of all bridges; in Pennsylvania, 18.3 percent of all bridges are deficient. Iowa actually has more structurally deficient bridges now than a year ago, by two percent. Pennsylvania’s deficient-bridge number decreased by 7.4 percent between 2016 and 2017.

Rounding out the top 10 states in terms of total number of deficient bridges are:

  • 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 (1,837).

Rhode Island again has the highest rate of deficient bridges, with 23.3 percent of its 778 bridges fitting the description. In both Texas and Nevada, only 1.6 percent of all bridges are considered to be deficient.

Arlington Memorial Bridge
National Park Service

The District of Columbia has eight deficient bridges; Arlington Memorial Bridge, shown here, is set to be rehabilitated starting this spring.

In the District of Columbia, only eight of a total of 245 bridges are deficient—one less than last year. The D.C. count includes Arlington Memorial Bridge, set to be rehabilitated starting this spring.

According to the report, 20 of the 50 states have a deficiency rate of 9 percent or higher, while eight states—mostly in the south and southwest, with the exception of Washington—have less than 5 percent deficient bridges.

Infrastructure Package Forthcoming

ARTBA released this year’s analysis Jan. 29, a day before President Donald J. Trump outlined his plans for a $1.5 trillion infrastructure package in his State of the Union address.

In the wake of the speech, ARTBA president and CEO Patrick Ruane issued a statement reading, “The ball is in Capitol Hill’s court. If scientists can clone monkeys, Congress ought to be able to figure out how to raise federal dollars to fix the Highway Trust Fund and modernize our choking National Freight Network. Those are the top two infrastructure priorities.”


Tagged categories: Bridges; Infrastructure; Rehabilitation/Repair

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