Do we know bridge first aid?

News The Road Information Program May 08, 2002
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Approximately one in four of the country's major, heavily-traveled bridges is deficient and in need of repair or replacement, a

Approximately one in four of the country's major, heavily-traveled bridges is deficient and in need of repair or replacement, according to The Road Information Program (TRIP).


The study, "Showing Their Age: The Nation's Bridges at 40," found that 14% of the country's bridges are structurally deficient, showing significant deterioration to decks and other major components. In addition, 14% are functionally obsolete. These bridges no longer meet modern design standards for safety features such as lane widths or alignments with connecting roads or no longer are adequate for the volume of traffic being carried.


Nearly half of the nation's bridges--48%--were built from 1950 to 1980, with the 1960s being the greatest bridge-building era when 19% of the spans open to traffic were built, according to TRIP.


Regular bridge maintenance and repair is crucial to maintaining personal and commercial mobility. A U.S. Department of Transportation report to Congress concluded that investment in the nation's bridges should be increased 44%, from $8.1 billion annually to $11.7 billion, an increase of $3.6 billion a year.


"While there has been a small reduction in the percentage of the nation's deficient bridges since 1995, from 32% to 28%, as a result of increased funding the tremendous growth in car and truck travel combined with a possible cut in federal and state highway funding may reverse recent gains in overall bridge conditions," said TRIP Executive Director Will Wilkins.


Vehicle travel increased 28% between 1990 and 2000. Similarly, travel by large commercial trucks increased by 40%.


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