Driving over bridges in the United States may now be full of doubt after a 2017 Bridge Report by the American Road & Transportation Builders Association revealed that there are nearly 56,000 structurally deficient U.S. bridges, which are crossed by 185 million daily. The report noted that about 1,900 of those bridges are on the Interstate Highway System.
The term “structural deficient” should not be taken by the public with a grain of salt because it doesn’t necessarily mean that bridges are unsafe. Instead, they only need attention in one or more of the key bridge elements like the superstructure or the substructure, being rated to be “poor” or in worse condition.
Peter Jones with Caltrans in California tells ABC-7 News that the roads perfectly safe. “Just because a bridge is classified as structurally deficient doesn’t mean that it’s unsafe to drive on,” he says.
Among the notable structurally deficient bridges are the Brooklyn Bridge in New York City and the Arlington Memorial Bridge in Washington, D.C.
California holds 14 of the most-traveled deficient bridges with 10 in Los Angeles, as noted by The Associated Press.
Bridge data indicates that almost 174,000 bridges in America are at least 50 years old and without any major reconstruction work.
As listed in the report, states like Iowa, Pennsylvania, Missouri, Oklahoma and Nebraska lead in the highest number of bridges with problems. On the other hand, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, Iowa and South Dakota are states with the highest percentages of structurally deficient bridges at 25%, 21% and 20% for the last two, respectively.
The research was administered by the American Road and Transportation Builders Association with bridge data coming from the 2016 National Bridge Inventory ASCII files as released by the Federal Highway Administration in January 2017.
Checking the status of the bridges comes after the rupture in the spillway at Oroville Lake in Northern California, forcing some 200,000 people to evacuate.