ARTBA Releases Bridge Inventory Analysis

FRIDAY, AUGUST 18, 2023


The American Road and Transportation Builders Association has announced that, according to a recent analysis, over 222,000 bridges in the United States are in need of major repair work or need to be replaced.

According to the release, ARTBA analyzed the recently released U.S. Department of Transportation 2023 National Bridge Inventory (NBI) database and found that 36% of bridges need repairs and 76,600 need to be replaced completely. 

The release says that of the bridges in need of repair, nearly 42,400 of the structures that motorists cross upwards of 167 million times daily are in poor condition 

If placed end to end, all of the bridges included in the analysis would stretch over 6,100 miles and take 110 hours to cross at an average speed of 55 miles per hour, according to ARTBA Chief Economist Dr. Alison Premo Black, who conducted the analysis.

“Most bridges are inspected every two years, so it takes time for repairs and rehabilitation efforts to show up in the annual federal data,” said Black. “What we do know now from other market indicators is that there are more bridge projects in the pipeline.”

Based on average cost data submitted by states to the DOT, Black reportedly calculated that it would cost over $319 billion to make all the necessary repairs.

Other findings in ARTBA’s analysis include:

  • The number of bridges in poor condition declined by 560 compared to 2022. At the current pace, it would take 75 years to repair them all;
  • Over the last five years, the share of bridges in fair condition continues to grow. In 2023, nearly half of all U.S. bridges (48.9%) were in fair condition;
  • There are 31 states that have committed less than 33 percent of their available bridge formula funds as of June 30; and
  • States have four years to commit formula bridge program funds for specific projects, giving them additional flexibility to decide when to make investments.

Additionally, as the end of fiscal year 2023 approaches, states have reportedly committed $3.2 billion, or 30% of available bridge formula funds, to 2,060 different bridge projects, with $7.4 billion still coming.

Eight states reportedly committed more than two-thirds of their available bridge formula funds:

  • Idaho (100%);
  • Georgia (100%);
  • Alabama (97%);
  • Arizona (88%);
  • Indiana (81.5%);
  • Florida (80%);
  • Texas (78%); and
  • Arkansas (68%).

“The good news is that states are beginning to employ these new resources to address long-overdue bridge needs,” ARTBA President & CEO Dave Bauer said. “The better news is that more improvements are on the way.”

Other Bridge Investigations

A recent investigation from Scripps News using newly released federal data reportedly shows the unexpected difficulties in repairing bridges in the nation that are corroded, cracked and at a heightened risk of being shut down. 

According to the report, billions of federal tax dollars are going towards fixing worn out bridges coast to coast as over 14,000 in all 50 states and Washington, D.C. have been ranked in poor condition for at least a decade.

President Joe Biden said the Fern Hollow Bridge collapse in Pittsburgh would jump start his plans to target federal funding to help cities across the country refurbish ailing bridges.

Since his administration, money from the bipartisan infrastructure law and other federal funding sources have helped pay for more than 6,400 bridge repair and replacement efforts. However, that still reportedly leaves thousands of bridges in need of funding.

Combined, the 14,000 bridges in the U.S. that have been ranked in poor condition carry over 46 million passengers every day. While a bridge may be in poor condition, Scripps News states, it doesn’t mean it will collapse, it may only require weight limits for trucks, as well as more frequent inspections.

Bridges in poor condition are reportedly at a greater risk of closure for safety concerns. According to the report, repairing all the bridges identified in the news analysis would cost at least $97 billion.

Bridge projects lacking funds extend beyond Pennsylvania, including brdges that are not technically considered to be in poor condition. According to the report, plans have been in the works for years to fix the Magnolia Bridge in Seattle, weakened by an earthquake from 2001. In Massachusetts, it will reportedly take $4 billion to replace the Sagamore and Bourne bridges that connect Cape Cod.

These bridges are considered to be in fair condition, despite all of them needing major work.

Also, northeast of Denver, a bridge going over six lanes of US-85 reportedly has “spindly cracks” all over the bottom of its concrete deck. According to the report, it has been in poor condition since 1989.

   

Tagged categories: American Road & Trans Builders Assn (ARTBA); Bridges; Bridges; Construction; Department of Transportation (DOT); Health and safety; NA; North America; NTSB (National Transportation Safety Board); Program/Project Management; Rehabilitation/Repair; Repair materials

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