At the current pace of work, it may take at least eight decades until all of the deficient bridges in the United States are repaired.
That’s according to a report just released by the Washington-based American Road and Transportation Builders Association which also notes that of the more than 616,000 bridges in the country today, some 8 percent of them are deemed structurally deficient and in need of immediate repair.
That 8 percent represents more than 47,000 individual bridges.
Another 235,000 bridges, according to the group, are in need of various levels of repair.
Although the report acknowledges that progress in recent years has been made repairing structurally deficient bridges, with their number declining from nearly 53,000 in 2014 to today’s 47,000, it’s the pace of the work that is proving the most challenging.
“At this rate, it would take over 80 years to make the significant repairs needed on these structures,” says the group’s 2019 Bridge Report.
The report additionally notes that just over 235,000 bridges currently have some sort of identified repair needs, and of that total, 19,000 are interstate highway bridges.
More than half of the top twenty states with the greatest number of deficient bridges are located in the East and Midwest.
With a total of just over 4,000 bridges, New Mexico ranked 32 on the report’s list with 5.8 percent of its bridges defined as deficient.
Colorado came in 34th on the list with nearly 8,800 existing bridges, 5.4 percent of which are deficient.
The report gave to Arizona the 50th place on the list with nearly 8,300 bridges, 1.8 percent of which are deficient.
Some of the defined “structurally deficient bridges” in the report include New York’s famous Brooklyn Bridge; the Memorial Bridge connecting Washington with Arlington, Virginia; and the nearly 5-mile mile Robert Maestri Bridge spanning Louisiana’s Lake Pontchartrain.
Taking note of the eighty-year timeframe, Alison Black, chief economist with the American Road and Transportation Builders Association, remarked, “That’s longer than the average life expectancy of a person living in the U.S.”
In a statement, Black continued: “America’s bridge network is outdated, underfunded, and in urgent need of modernization. State and local government just haven’t been given the necessary resources to get the job done.”
By Garry Boulard
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