An alarming report on the state of the nation’s bridges shows that over 47,000 bridges in the United States are rated structurally deficient and in need of urgent repairs.
The annual bridge report from American Road & Transportation Builders Association tracks the 616,087 bridges in the U.S. and rates them by states of disrepair. As the country’s infrastructure continues to age, the problem of bridges considered to be in poor condition is a growing concern. The average age of a structurally deficient bridge is 62 years, compared to 40 years for non-deficient bridges.
If placed end to end, the worst of our bridges would stretch for 1,100 miles - the distance between Chicago and Houston. And despite the potential danger, Americans still need to get where we’re going. Cars, trucks and buses cross these bad bridges 178 million times every day.
When you expand the problem to all bridges in the U.S. that need structural repair, rehabilitation or replacement, the number reaches 235,000. ARTBA estimates that the cost to make the repairs for all 235,000 bridges is nearly $171 billion.
While the number of structurally deficient bridges has declined in the past four years, the progress has hardly made a dent in the problem. The pace of repair in 2018 slowed compared to previous years with only a 1% net reduction in deficient structures, hitting its lowest point in five years. From 2014 to 2017, the total number structurally deficient bridges fell by an average of 1,700 per year.
To put that in perspective, at the current rate of repair, it would take over 80 years to make the needed improvements.
The full report is available here.