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Truck Safety Expert:
United States Bridge Infrastructure Crumbling.

Evidence Solutions, Inc. Heavy Truck Expert Articles

A recent government report shows that if the structurally deficient bridges in the United States were placed end-to-end, it would take you 25 hours driving 60 miles per hour to cross them.  That adds up to roughly 1,500 miles, the approximate distance between Boston and Miami. The report by the American Road and Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA) found that more than 63,000 or approximately 10% of the bridges around the country are “structurally deficient.” According to its website, the ARTBA was established in 1902,  and is the “consensus voice” of the U.S. transportation design and construction industry in the Nation’s Capital.

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Over two hundred million trips are taken daily across bridges are in the “deficient” category in the nation’s largest metropolitan regions. The statistics indicate that one in nine of the nation’s bridges are rated as structurally deficient and the average age of the nation’s 607,380 bridges is around 42 years. The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) estimates that $20.5 billion needs to be invested annually not the $12.8 billion is being spent currently to eliminate the deficiencies in the bridges by 2028. This would require that federal, state, and local governments find another $8 billion per year to rectify the $76 billion required to fix deficient bridges across the United States.

Bridges that require significant maintenance are considered structurally deficient. The nationwide ranking system, ranks bridge decks and support structures on a scale of zero to nine—nine being “excellent” condition. The bridge inspections are done regularly by the state transportation departments for deterioration.  A bridge is classified as structurally deficient if its overall rating is four or below.

Analysis of the 2013 National Bridge Inventory database maintained by the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) shows cars, trucks and school buses cross the nation’s 63,000 structurally deficient bridges more than 250 million times every day.  Most of these bridges are part of the heavily traveled are on the Interstate Highway system. This problem really hits home in California where all but one of the rural Interstate bridges is at least 39 years old.

Data supplied by the states found that the following states had the highest number of deficient bridges: Pennsylvania (5,218) bridges, Iowa (5,043), Oklahoma (4,227), Missouri (3,357) and California (2,769). By approximate percentage of deficient bridges, states that have 20% or more of their bridges in the deficient category are as follows: Pennsylvania (23 percent), Rhode Island (22 percent), Iowa (21 percent) and South Dakota (21 percent).

States with the least amount of deficient bridges include: Nevada (36), Delaware (56), Utah (117), Alaska (133) and Hawaii (144). Florida, Nevada and Texas ranked at the bottom with 2% of their bridges rated as deficient.

ARTBA emphasized its report highlights the need to repair critical infrastructure. Most of the funding for these bridges comes from the federal Highway Trust Fund (HTF). The HTF is expected to run out of money later this summer. The HTF provides states with money for highway infrastructure projects, and the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) has warned it could start slowing down payments to states as the account dries up.

Rankings and State specific bridge information, including locations, of the 250 most heavily travelled structurally deficient bridges in the nation and top 10 most heavily travelled in each state, is available online at www.artba.org/economics/state-bridge-profiles.


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