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N.J bridges among the worst in the U.S. again, new report shows

Thursday, March 10, 2016   (0 Comments)
Share | 2/9/2016

The state counted 2,310 bridges that needed repairs, were inadequate to handle their traffic loads or did not meet current safety standards at the end of 2015. That was 34.5 percent of New Jersey's 6,686 bridges. Only seven states had a greater percentage of deficient bridges. Nationally, 23.2 percent of bridges in the 50 states were rated as deficient, according to the FHWA statistics that run through Dec. 31.  However, the Garden State did reduce its number of deficient bridges by 33 during the year. And New Jersey's standing did improve a bit: In 2014, the state was sixth worst on the national list.  Gov. Chris Christie and the state legislature are debating how to raise money for the depleted trust fund, which only has enough cash to pay debt on existing bonds. The average bridge in the state is more than 50 years old, and that, combined with heavy traffic loads, lots of trucks, and harsh winters, means the state "will always have a high number of bridges that are rated as either structurally deficient or functionally obsolete," state Transportation Department spokesman Steve Schapiro said. Deficient bridges aren't about to collapse. New Jersey inspects its spans of 20 feet or more at least once every two years, and closes lanes or the entire bridge of those deemed unsafe until emergency repairs are made. The most heavily traveled bridge needing repairs, according to the American Road & Transportation Builders Association, is the Garden State Parkway's Mill Road bridge in Union County, which carries almost 200,000 motorists a day.  A year ago, New Jersey's bridges were the sixth worst in the nation, with 2,343, or 35.5 percent, of 6,609 structures rated as deficient. Nevertheless, New Jersey spent just 1.4 percent of its Gross State Product on capital projects in 2013, the fifth lowest among the 50 states, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

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