IA Ranks High on Deficient Bridges List


A report from the American Road and Transportation Builders Association found that Iowa is the number one state in the country for the number of structurally deficient bridges, several those being in the Quad Cities region.

According to recent reports, the concerning bridges include the Edgewood Road bridge over the Cedar River in Cedar Rapids, as well as the Highway 1 bridge over the Iowa River in Iowa City.

Research Information

According to the ARTBA, the Centennial bridge, which connects the Iowa city of Davenport and Rock Island, Illinois, is the most used structurally deficient bridge in the state. Additionally, the Interstate 280 bridge in the area maintains the number two spot.

News outlet WQAD reproted that records from the Illinois Department of Transportation tracing back to 2004 showed the Centennial Bridge has remained structurally deficient, though it is inspected every year. A bridge is reportedly deemed structurally deficient when either the deck of the superstructure or other support pieces are in poor or worse condition.

However, ARTBA Chief Economist Dr. Alison Black stated that it's nothing for drivers to worry about.

"I think people should be aware of the conditions they don't have to worry per se," Dr. Black said. "State DOTs are very good, If there's any concern about safety and the traveling public, they will either post a bridge for load, which means they'll restrict the weight, or maybe truck traffic that crosses the bridge or in extreme cases, they may shut down a lane or the entire bridge."

The report from WQAD added that the problem with structurally deficient bridges is not unique to the Quad Cities.

"What we see with a number of the states that have a very large number of deficient bridges, a lot of those bridges are on local rural networks and road systems," Dr. Black stated. "And in many cases, it can really be challenging for local government to raise enough revenue to make those necessary repairs."

The Centennial Bridge reportedly just completed its $1.5 million renovation. Though it's still reportedly listed as the number one most structurally deficient bridge most traveled on, the most recent inspection, which was in July, does not factor in those repairs due to the timing of the inspection and the timing of the ARTBA report.

Additionally, the National Bridge Inventory also found nearly 15,000 bridges across Iowa are in need of some form of repair, comparing to 15,223 bridges that needed work in 2019. Of the 23,720 bridges in the state, 19.2% are classified as structurally deficient, down from 4,575 bridges in 2019. 

Due to the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act from President Joe Biden, Iowa will reportedly receive $461.7 million in bridge formula funds for bridge work over the life of the act. Illinois is also reportedly receiving $1.5 billion for the same issue.

The full Iowa report can be found here.

ARTBA Bridge Report

In August, the ARTBA announced in its analysis that it found over 222,000 bridges in the United States are in need of major repair work or need to be replaced. 

According to the release at the time, 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.

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%).

Recent Bridge Investigation

Earlier that month, an 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: Bridges; Bridges; Construction; Corrosion; Department of Transportation (DOT); Health & Safety; Infrastructure; Infrastructure; NA; North America; President Biden; Program/Project Management; Quality Control; Rebuilding; Rehabilitation/Repair; Roads/Highways

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