The American Road & Transportation Builders Association’s (ARTBA) analysis of the 2016 National Bridge Inventory from the Federal Highway Administration shows the number of structurally deficient bridges in the U.S. has dropped to 55,710 from 58,500 shown in the previous report.
Even though the figure has dropped, this still represents 1,276 miles of structurally deficient bridges if they were positioned end-to-end, a distance that would stretch halfway between New York and Los Angeles, ARTBA says.
And, says ARTBA chief economist Allison Premo Black, this rate of reduction would still necessitate more than 20 years to replace or repair all the existing bridges in this condition.
Black, who conducted the analysis, says 28 percent of bridges are more than 50 years old and have not had any major reconstruction work during that span of time.
“America’s highway network is woefully underperforming. It is outdated, overused, underfunded and in desperate need of modernization,” Black reports. “State and local transportation departments haven’t been provided the resources to keep pace with the nation’s bridge needs.”
ARTBA says bridge decks and support structure are rated on a scale of zero to nine. The higher the number, the better the bridge condition. A bridge rated as a nine is considered in “excellent” condition, while a bridge rated as four or below is considered structurally deficient and in need of repair.
Other significant findings from the analysis include:
- 1,900 structurally deficient bridges are on the Interstate Highway System.
- The average age of a structurally deficient bridge is 67 years, compared to 39 years for non-deficient bridges.
- 41 percent of U.S. bridges (250,406) are more than 40 years old and have not had major reconstruction work.
- Iowa (4,968), Pennsylvania (4,506), Oklahoma (3,460), Missouri (3,195), Nebraska (2,361), Illinois (2,243), Kansas (2,151), Mississippi (2,098), Ohio (1,942) and New York (1,928) have the most structurally deficient bridges.
- The District of Columbia (9), Nevada (31), Delaware (43), Hawaii (64) and Utah (95) have the least.
- Eight states have at least 15 percent of their total bridges rated as structurally deficient, including Rhode Island (25 percent), Iowa (21 percent), Pennsylvania (20 percent), South Dakota (20 percent), West Virginia (17 percent), Nebraska (15 percent), North Dakota (15 percent) and Oklahoma (15 percent.
ARTBA’s bridge analysis is available at www.artbabridgereport.org and includes data by state and congressional district, including rankings and locations of the 250 most heavily traveled structurally deficient bridges and the top 25 most heavily traveled in each state.