New data provides a hard look at the nation's structurally deficient bridges.
According to U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration records, there were 61,365 bridges in the United States and Puerto Rico classified as structurally deficient in 2014. While these bridges see more than 215 million daily crossings, news isn't quite all bad. On the plus side, 61,365 is a decrease from 2013, when 63,522 bridges were reported as structurally deficient.
The news comes less than two months before the Highway Trust Fund, which finances more than half of these needed bridge repairs, is set to run out of money on May 31. So far there's no long-term solution, but currently, federal lawmakers are considering a number of proposals. At the state level, legislators have already or are considering raised the gas tax in more than half the states.
According to a USA Today report on the issue:
"State and local governments are doing the best they can to address these significant challenges, given limited resources," said Alison Black, [American Road & Transportation Builders Association] chief economist. She added, "Without additional investment from all levels of government, our infrastructure spending will be a zero-sum game."
Black provided a detailed analysis of the data and according to a press release from ARTBA:
- The 250 most heavily crossed structurally deficient bridges are on urban interstate highways, particularly in California. Nearly 87 percent of these bridges were built before 1970.
- Pennsylvania (5,050), Iowa (5,022), Oklahoma (4,216), Missouri (3,310), Nebraska (2,654), California (2,501), Kansas (2,416), Mississippi (2,275), Illinois (2,216) and North Carolina (2,199) have the highest numbers of structurally deficient bridges. The District of Columbia (14), Nevada (34), Delaware (48), Hawaii (61), and Utah (102) have the least.
- At least 15 percent of the bridges in eight states—Rhode Island (23 percent), Pennsylvania (22 percent), Iowa (21 percent), South Dakota (20 percent), Oklahoma (18 percent), Nebraska (17 percent), North Dakota (16 percent) and Maine (15 percent)—fall in the structurally deficient category.