A Third Of 620,000 U.S. Bridges Are Creaking And Must Be Replaced
Roughly a third of the nation's 620,000 bridges — 36% — need major repair work or replacement, Jennifer A. Kingson reported for Axios.
Photo Insert: An old bridge in the US
More than 43,500 US bridges are in poor enough condition to be deemed "structurally deficient," according to the new report by the American Road & Transportation Builders Association. Those bridges are crossed 167.5 million times a day. At the current rate, it would take 30 years to fix all of America's structurally deficient bridges.
Historic sums are about to be spent on bridge repair — more than $26.5 billion over five years — under Biden's infrastructure law, the Department of Transportation announced in January.
Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg called it "the single largest dedicated bridge investment since the construction of the Interstate highway system." Many bridges were built after World War II and were meant to last 100 years.
But they're falling apart ahead of schedule, due to combinations of extreme weather, the massive growth of vehicle traffic, deferred maintenance, and a lack of coordinated oversight.
It's time to deploy new technology to the old-world practices of bridge inspection and maintenance, says Matti Kuivalainen the CEO of Dywidag, one of the world's leading bridge engineering firms. It means the widespread installation of sensors that can help predict problems — which is happening in Europe but not the US, Kuivalainen said.