Thirty Percent of Michigan Bridges Need Work

The Michigan Department of Transportation's updated information about the safety of 4,400 state highway bridges does not say they are dangerous, but 423 are classified as "structurally deficient" and 901 as "functionally obsolete."

No danger to motorists is implied, but the Michigan Department of Transportation's updated information on April 13 about the safety of 4,400 state highway bridges says 423 of them are classified as "structurally deficient" and 901 as "functionally obsolete." These are engineering terms; the former means a bridge may require rehabilitation or replacement at some time in the future, and "functionally obsolete" means a bridge is outdated and may require modernization at some time in the future.

The ratings are current as of March 31, 2010, and include only highway bridges longer than 20 feet -- not pedestrian, railroad, or locally owned bridges. MDOT is updating the site on a quarterly basis.

"We are using limited funding as efficiently as we can," said State Transportation Director Kirk T. Steudle, "working year-round to monitor the condition of highway bridges in Michigan. We take highway and bridge safety very seriously and want citizens to be confident that Michigan's bridges are safe, regularly inspected, and well maintained."

National Bridge Inspection Standards require MDOT to inspect bridges every two years. The Mackinac, International, and Blue Water bridges are inspected annually, but their ratings are not included in the list.

This time, MDOT reported 12 fewer structurally deficient bridges and 12 more functionally obsolete bridges than it did in December 2009. Three new bridges were added to the list, and one was removed.

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