Nearly 450 bridges in Connecticut are structurally deficient

Updated May 26, 2015
A still from WFSB news footage shows corrosion beneath a bridge in Hartford.A still from WFSB news footage shows corrosion beneath a bridge in Hartford.

Connecticut’s 12 million daily drivers probably find themselves on a bridge that’s not exactly on par with construction standards.

The state has 446 bridges considered to be structurally deficient, one out of every 9, according to documents obtained by WFSP in Hartford from Connecticut Department of Transportation records.

The state’s DOT commissioner, Jim Redecker, said the bridges are still mostly safe for drivers. If a bridge is considered to be in serious condition, Redecker said the DOT warns the public and shuts it down.

“That doesn’t mean that they’re dangerous bridges,” Redecker said. “Based on a life cycle or based on usage, those bridges need the next set of funding to get them fixed.”

But he added that it has taken an accident in the past for a significant amount of money to be put toward bridge repairs. The last time the state invested a large amount of money in bridges was after 100 feet of Interstate 90 collapsed in Greenwich and killed three people.

Redecker did say that all of the bridges in poor condition are on the schedule to be rehabbed or replaced. However, he said the repairs would have to wait until federal funding is available—and the promise of that federal funding has been questionable as a long-term extension of the Highway Trust Fund is up in the air.

Of the 445 bridges, 160 are maintained by cities across the state while 286 are state-owned.

The Connecticut Construction Industry Association’s Don Shubert said the condition of the bridges in the state has gone under the radar. Shubert said 1,700 bridges in the state were built with a 50-year lifespan in the 1950s and ‘60s.

“Over the years, the problem has suffered from a lack of attention. Transportation is invisible unless something really bad happens,” Shubert said.

Connecticut’s 446 bridges are just a fraction of the 61,000 bridges across America considered “structurally deficient. In the neighboring state of New York, 39 percent of the bridges were found to be in poor condition – 12 percent were found to be “structurally deficient” and another 27 were considered “functionally obsolete.”