According to a recent analysis from the American Road & Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA), more than 230,000 U.S. bridges need either major repair work or should be replaced. The analysis used the U.S. Department of Transportation's 2019 National Bridge Inventory database to form the analysis.
In simpler terms, 37% of all U.S. bridges, which would stretch more than 6,300 miles altogether and see American drivers crossing them 1.5 billion times per day, need immediate repair, according to the data. Of this total, more than 46,000 of those bridges are considered "structurally deficient" and in poor condition. These are crossed 178 million times a day.
The report, which was released as Congress and the White House continue to respond to the fiscal impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, could lay down a road map to economic recovery, according to ARTBA President Dave Bauer.
“Economic recovery from coronavirus begins with strategic road and bridge improvements,” said Bauer. “Increased transportation investments support direct job creation and retention, while putting in place capital assets that will enhance U.S. productivity for decades to come.”
Diving deeper into the numbers, an additional 81,000 bridges should be replaced and one-third of Interstate highway bridges – or 18,177 – need repairs, according to ARTBA Chief Economist Dr. Alison Premo Black, who led the analysis.
While the transportation construction industry is not seeking federal assistance, it should be part of the solution, according to Bauer, adding that in July 2019, the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee unanimously approved a five-year highway reauthorization bill, which should be the starting point for discussions.
“The sooner we invest in robust new transportation improvements, the sooner the American people will experience the economic benefits,” Bauer says.
ARTBA estimates the cost to make the identified repairs for all 231,000 bridges in the U.S. at nearly $164 billion, based on average cost data published by the Federal Highway Administration.
“At the current pace, it would take more than 50 years to repair America's structurally deficient bridges,” said Black. “Our bridge network is underfunded and should be modernized. State and local government just haven't been given the necessary financial resources to fully address the problem.”
See the full report here.