Report: Will Take 80 Years to Repair Bridges Across the U.S.

- Bridges across the United States are deteriorating, and a new report estimates it will take more than 80 years to fix all of them.

More than 47,000 bridges in the United States are in crucial need of repairs, says the American Road and Transportation Builders Association, or ARTBA. The group, which advocates for investment in transportation infrastructure, analyzes data from the Federal Highway Administration and releases an annual Deficient Bridge report.

This year's report based on 2018 data found:
  • There are 616,087 bridges in America
  • Of those, 47,052 (nearly 8%) are "structurally deficient" and need urgent repairs
  • 235,020 bridges (38%) need some sort of repair
  • Americans cross structurally deficient bridges 178 million times a day, including such landmarks as the Brooklyn Bridge and the San Mateo-Hayward Bridge over the San Francisco Bay
  • The average age of a structurally deficient bridge is 62 years
The report's projection for how long it will take to fix all the structurally deficient bridges has more than doubled since last year's estimate of 37 years. Because the current pace of repair work is at its slowest in five years, it will likely take more than 80 years to complete the repairs on the structures that need it, ARTBA said.

But an FHWA spokeswoman painted a different picture. She said bridge conditions in the United States have steadily improved over the years due to ongoing bridge safety efforts led by FHWA and state departments of transportation. Since 2002, the number of bridges nationwide that are classified as poor has decreased from 11% to 8%, she said.

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