It Would Take 80 Years to Fix All US Bridges in Need of ‘Urgent Repair’ at Current Pace: Report

The United States’ response to crumbling infrastructure has been minimal and it would take more than 80 years to fix all of the bridges in the country considered in crucial need of repair at the current pace, according to a new report.

More than 47,000 bridges in the country are in need of “urgent repair,” warned the American Road and Transportation Builders Association. That means nearly 8 percent of all 616,087 bridges are “structurally deficient” while another 38 percent, or 235,020 bridges, need some sort of repair.

The bridges in need of urgent repair are used 178 million times each day. These bridges include the Brooklyn Bridge and the San Mateo-Hayward Bridge.

The average age of the structurally deficient bridges is 62 years, the report said.

Iowa (4,675), Pennsylvania (3,770), Oklahoma (2,540), Illinois (2,273), and Missouri (2,116) have the highest number of bridges in urgent need of repair.

Definition change prompted drop in “structurally deficient” bridges:

While the 47,000 number is shockingly high, it’s actually down by about 7,000 from last year after the Federal Highway Administration narrowed the definition of what “structurally deficient” actually means.

“Bridges are regularly inspected for safety on a scale of 0 to 9. Structurally deficient means that one of four key elements of the bridge is rated a 4, which is poor, or below,” CNN reported. “Before, bridges could also be classified as structurally deficient if their overall structural evaluation was rated 4 or lower, or if they had insufficient waterway openings.”

"(The new definition) does make a difference," ARTBA chief economist Alison Black told the outlet. "About 6,500 bridges that would've been structurally deficient are not under this (new) definition."

Repairs slow as concerns mount:

Even though the number of structurally deficient bridges is technically down, the estimate for how long it would take to repair all of them has more than doubled since last year’s 37 years estimate because repairs have fallen to the slowest level in five years.

"We've seen bridge construction activity slow down the last few years after increasing significantly over the last 10 years," Black said. "We'll continue to see more bridges close or posted for load as bridges deteriorate,” she added.

"President Trump has said repeatedly that he wants to upgrade America's crumbling infrastructure," CNN reported. "Even though some Democratic leaders have expressed a willingness to work with him on a plan, little progress has been made on the issue."


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