Almost 55,000 U.S. bridges called ‘structurally deficient’

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With President Trump expected to unveil long-awaited details of a plan for the nation’s highways, bridges and other infrastructure during his first State of the Union speech tonight, one national organization today detailed many of the problems in need of repair.

The American Road & Transportation Builders Association says there is a lot of work to be done. Citing the Department of Transportation‘s recently released 2017 National Bridge Inventory database, the organization said:

— 54,259 of the nation’s 612,677 bridges are rated “structurally deficient”

— Americans cross these deficient bridges 174 million times daily

— Average age of a structurally deficient bridge is 67 years, compared to 40 years for non-deficient bridges

— One in three (226,837) U.S. bridges have identified repair needs

— One in three (17,726) interstate highway bridges have identified repair needs

See where those deficient bridges are located.

A statement from the association says the pace of improving the nation’s inventory of structurally deficient bridges slowed this past year, down only two-tenths of a percent from the number reported in the government’s 2016 data.

Dr. Alison Premo Black, chief economist for the ARTBA, said at this pace, it would take 37 years to make all the needed repairs.

“An infrastructure package aimed at modernizing the Interstate System would have both short- and long-term positive effects on the U.S. economy,” said Black. Traffic bottlenecks, she says, costs the trucking industry alone over $60 billion per year in lost productivity and fuel, which “increases the cost of everything we make, buy or export.”

The ARTBA statement said bridge decks and support structures are regularly inspected for deterioration and remedial action. They are rated on a scale of zero to nine—with nine meaning the bridge is in “excellent” condition. A bridge is classified as structurally deficient and in need of repair if the rating on a key structural element is four or below.

The states with the most structurally deficient bridges are:

  1. Iowa (5,067)
  2. Pennsylvania (4,173)
  3. Oklahoma (3,234)
  4. Missouri (3,086)
  5. Illinois (2,303)
  6. Nebraska (2,258)
  7. Kansas (2,115)
  8. Mississippi (2,008)
  9. North Carolina (1,854)
  10. New York (1,834)
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With the least are

  1. The District of Columbia (8)
  2. Nevada (31), Delaware (39)
  3. Hawaii (66)
  4. Utah (87)

In an interview with CNBC today, presidential adviser Gary Cohn said, “He’s going to talk about a trillion and a half dollars of investment, but more importantly, he’s going to talk about streamlining the approval process on infrastructure. Right now, we have an infrastructure approval process that takes seven to 10 years to build relatively simple roads. We need to streamline that to less than two years.”