Report: Over 55,000 US bridges are deficient
Friday, February 17, 2017
A total of 55,710 bridges were found to be structurally deficient in the U.S. in 2016, with little improvement from the previous year, according to a new report.
If placed end-to-end, the nation’s deficient bridges would stretch 1,276 miles, or half the distance from New York to Los Angeles, the American Road & Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA) said Wednesday.
Cars, trucks and school buses drove across structurally compromised bridges about 185 million times per day last year, according to the report.
Although structurally deficient bridges may still be safe to drive on, they have defects or repair needs that can cause speed or weight limits to be imposed. They also tend to be much older — the average age of a deficient bridge is 67 years old, compared to 39 years for non-deficient bridges.
The new data comes as President Trump has vowed to inject $1 trillion into the nation’s crumbling infrastructure, including for road, bridge and tunnel upgrades.
“America’s highway network is woefully underperforming. It is outdated, overused, underfunded and in desperate need of modernization,” said Alison Premo Black, ARTBA’s chief economist. “State and local transportation departments haven’t been provided the resources to keep pace with the nation’s bridge needs.”
The ARTBA report did find that the number of deficient bridges slightly declined by 0.5 percent, or 2,785 bridges, compared to 2015, but that pace would take more than two decades to replace or repair all of the bridges.
By 2025, the price of maintaining and updating the country’s infrastructure will total $3.3 trillion, but planned investments are only $1.8 trillion, leaving a $1.4 trillion gap.
That shortfall is projected to grow to $5.1 trillion by 2040 if spending continues on the current trajectory, according to the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE).