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STUDY: 63,000 'Structurally Compromised' American Bridges

New data analyzed by the American Road and Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA) shows that more than 63,000 American bridges are structurally compromised including hundreds on heavily traveled highways.  The report, which uses data from the 2013 National Bridge Inventory database, provides empirical proof that Congress must act to pass an infrastructure bill.  

The current transportation bill is set to expire in September and the legislation being pushed by the Obama Administration is expected to meet resistance.  The proposed bill would provide $302 billion over four years to the nation’s transportation budget.  Of that amount, $63 billion would go directly to addressing the Highway Trust fund shortfall.  

While the current state of American bridges creates a costly problem for the federal government, inaction would ultimately prove worse and jack up costs in the long-term.  According to the ARTBA, “if the nation’s structurally deficient bridges were laid end to end, it would take 25 hours for a person driving 60 miles per hour to cross them.”  

Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx projects that the Highway Trust Fund will be empty by August, so the time is now for a plan to address the nation’s crumbling infrastructure.  As ARTBA chief economist Dr. Alison Premo Black recently explained, inaction causes cumulative, exponential harm:

Letting the Highway Trust Fund investment dry up would have a devastating impact on bridge repairs.  It would set back bridge improvements in every state for the next decade.

Dr. Black is certain that a reversal of fortunes must be led by Congress:

It takes committed investment by our legislators. Members of Congress need to come to grips with that. Some of our most heavily traveled bridges were built in the 1930s. Most are more than 40 years old.

Using the ARTBA’s interactive map, you can see how many structurally deficient bridges are in each state and how that compares to the national average.

Other findings from the ARTBA report include:

  • The 250 most heavily used, structurally deficient bridges are on urban interstate highways, and all but one are at least 39 years old. (See the list of these bridges here.)
  • States with the highest number of structurally deficient bridges are Pennsylvania (5,218);Iowa (5,043); Oklahoma (4,227); Missouri (3,357); and California (2,769).
  • States with the fewest structurally deficient bridges are Nevada (36); Delaware (56); Utah(117); Alaska (133); and Hawaii (144).
  • At least 20 percent of bridges in four states are structurally deficient—Pennsylvania (23 percent), Rhode Island (22 percent); Iowa (21 percent), and South Dakota (21 percent).

63000 Structurally Compromised Bridges ARTBA

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