That Bridge You Drive Over May Be One of 56K Shoddy Ones

Report nails tens of thousands of 'structurally deficient' spans across US
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 15, 2017 1:48 PM CST
There Are 56K 'Structurally Deficient' Bridges in US: Report
The Throgs Neck Bridge in NYC made the list.   (Getty Images/littleny)

Like a bridge over troubled water, or simply like a troubled bridge? According to a construction organization specializing in over-the-water platforms, it's the latter in the US, with almost 56,000 "structurally deficient" bridges scattered across the country, USA Today reports. And the American Road and Transportation Builders Association's list doesn't just mention overpasses in remote towns with little budget to remedy the issue: Major bridges like NYC's Throgs Neck and DC's Arlington Memorial also have engineers shaking their heads. The nation's highway system is "woefully underperforming," Dr. Alison Premo Black, ARTBA's chief economist, says of her group's analysis of DOT data, adding that the entire network is antiquated, lacking in funds, and in "desperate need of modernization."

Black says 28% of US bridges—which see 185 million crossings by vehicles daily—are more than 50 years old and have never had a major revamp. The report gives each of the bridges a rating of one to nine: nine being the best, anything four and under signifying a structurally iffy span that needs fixes (though USA Today notes that designation doesn't necessarily make a bridge "imminently unsafe"). The state with the most worrisome bridges is Iowa (nearly 5,000 bridges make the list), followed by Pennsylvania and Oklahoma. One of the biggest issues, per the National Association of Corrosion Engineers: rust, the Washington Post notes. The biggest challenge to addressing the problem is money, with Black noting community and state transport agencies have lacked resources to "keep pace with the nation's bridge needs." (The world's highest bridge is now open for business.)

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