Nearly 231,000 U.S. bridges need major repair work or should be replaced, according to an American Road & Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA) analysis of the just-released 2019 National Bridge Inventory (NBI) database from the U.S. DOT.
That figure represents 37%, or more than one-third, of all U.S. bridges. If placed end-to-end, the length of these bridges would stretch over 6,300 miles—long enough to make a round trip across the country from New York City to Los Angeles and back again to Chicago. American drivers cross these bridges 1.5 billion times per day – representing one-third of all daily bridge crossings, according to the data.
ARTBA says that more than 46,000 of those bridges are considered “structurally deficient” and in poor condition. These structures are crossed 178 million times a day. An additional 81,000 bridges should be replaced, according to ARTBA Chief Economist Dr. Alison Premo Black, who led the team conducting the analysis. One-third of interstate highway bridges (18,177 spans) have identified repair needs.
The report comes as Congress and the Trump administration continue working on measures to respond to the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. ARTBA says once policy makers shift from a rescue focus to economic recovery, robust transportation infrastructure investments have comprehensive benefits.
ARTBA estimates the cost to make the identified repairs for all 231,000 bridges in the U.S. at nearly $164 billion, based on average cost data published by the Federal Highway Administration.
States with the most structurally deficient bridges as a percent of their total bridge inventory are: Rhode Island (22.3%); West Virginia (21%); Iowa (19%); South Dakota (17%); Pennsylvania (15.3%); Louisiana (13.2%); Maine (12.8%); Puerto Rico (12.3%); Michigan (10.8%); and North Dakota (10.7%).
States with the largest actual number of structurally deficient bridges are: Iowa (4,575 bridges); Pennsylvania (3,501); Illinois (2,407); Oklahoma (2,352); Missouri (2,147); California (1,797); New York (1,745); North Carolina (1,714); Louisiana (1,701); and West Virginia (1,531).
Over the last five years, Pennsylvania has reduced the number of its structurally deficient bridges by 1,200. Other states with large decreases: Oklahoma (753); Indiana (467); Ohio (412); and Virginia (391). In 12 states, the number of structurally deficient bridges increased over the five years, including: West Virginia (plus 472); Illinois (260); Florida (131); Missouri (80); and Montana (77).
ARTBA says some of the notable "structurally deficient" bridges in the country include New York City’s Brooklyn Bridge; Washington, D.C.’s Theodore Roosevelt bridge; the San Mateo-Hayward bridge crossing San Francisco Bay—the longest bridge in California; Florida’s Pensacola Bay Bridge; and the Vicksburg Bridge in Mississippi.