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56,000 bridges are structurally insecure in the USA



Recent figures have called into question the state of bridges across America.

The ‘2017 Bridge Report’ from The American Road and Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA) stated that 55,710 bridges across the USA, which are used by vehicles 185 million times daily collectively, are ‘structurally deficient’. It also highlighted that around 1,900 of these bridge form part of the Interstate Highway System.
56,000 bridges are structurally insecure in the USA
Image via: Dan Grogan, Flickr

The way in which the Interstate Highway System is financed is worth noting in relation to the impact it might have had on current figures. The highways and their rights of way are owned by the state in which they were built, with maintenance generally the responsibility of the state department of transportation.

With this in mind, Iowa, found to be the state with the most structurally deficient bridges in 2016 is set to become the focus of much analysis. Of the 24,184 bridges located there, 4,968 were deemed to be deficient, a figure that makes up 20.5% of the total. Pennsylvania was in second place with 19.8 % of total bridges, closely followed by Oklahoma with 15%. While none of these states are amongst the richest in the USA (based on median household income), they also are by no means the poorest.

Attention has also been drawn to the inclusion of some perhaps ‘iconic’ and certainly well-known stretches of highway being featured in the ARTBA list. Memorial Bridge in Washington, D.C, Yankee Doodle in Connecticut and Throgs Neck in New York are all regarded as ‘structurally deficient’.

The age of bridges has been called into debate amid the report’s findings, the average age of a bridge which ARTBA regarded as ‘structurally deficient’ was 69 years. When compared to the average age of a bridge recognised as ‘safe’ – which is 39 – this is a clear indicator as to the length of time a bridge could be deemed as useful before replacement, or serious structural repair is necessary. This point is expanded on by the report highlighting that 41% of bridges in America are now over 40 years old, and have received no reconstruction work, with 28% over 50 years old.
56,000 bridges structurally insecure USA
Image via: Travis Wise, Flickr

Commenting on the report, ARTBA Chief Economist Dr. Alison Premo Black, responsible for conducting the analysis, stated: “America’s highway network is woefully underperforming. It is outdated, overused, underfunded and in desperate need of modernization.”

“State and local transportation departments haven’t been provided the resources to keep pace with the nation’s bridge needs.”

Despite the seemingly negative findings however, it should be noted that the total number of ‘structurally deficient’ bridges in America since the previous bridge report, released in February 2016, has fallen. At that point 58,500 bridges were recorded as being so, which itself was a fall of 2,574 on the 2015 figure.

ARTBA is regarded as the most respected national transportation construction trade group in America and aims to build and protect the US transportation construction market, offering information, education and training programmes, amongst many other things.
Recent Comments
Are there any signs or warnings that people should not use them? Really a very large number and a lot of people at risk all the time. any alternate routes or plans to rebuild?
Vidyadhar Joshi, 25 May 2017
Yes I agree with you, but this information is only warning or we can do something for it. I think we need action and please let me know what is the action plan so we can participate on real action to start.
Alavi, 07 December 2018
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56,000 bridges are structurally insecure in the USA - Time to read 3 min
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