Pace of Repairing Deficient Bridges Slows Down: ARTBA

"Since the 2016 election, leaders on both sides of the aisle have regularly cited upgrading America's infrastructure as an area for common ground. This report makes clear that it's about time Congress and the Trump administration stop talking and start solving this national problem," said ARTBA President Dave Bauer.

The American Road & Transportation Builders Association's latest report on the nation's bridges is sobering news. The report showed 47,052 of America's 616,087 bridges are "structurally deficient" and in poor condition, and the pace of repair slowed to its lowest point in a half-decade. Bridges with structural deficiencies declined by only 1 percent last year, ARTBA reported.

Its report is based on analysis of the recently released U.S. Department of Transportation 2018 National Bridge Inventory database. Notable bridges on the structurally deficient list include Brooklyn (N.Y.), Arlington Memorial (Washington, D.C.-Va.), Pensacola (Fla.), San Mateo-Hayward (Calif.), and the Vicksburg (Miss.) bridges, ARTBA noted, reporting that the average age of a structurally deficient bridge is 62 years, compared to 40 years for non-deficient bridges.

Cars, trucks, and school buses cross 47,052 bridges 178 million times every day, according to the data, and nearly 1,775 of then are on the Interstate Highway System. The most-traveled structurally deficient bridges are on parts of Route 101, Interstate 405, and Interstate 5 in California, where daily crossings are as high as 289,000 per day.

The association reported that 235,000 (38 percent) U.S. bridges need repair, replacement, or major rehabilitation, and 18,842 (1 out of every 3) Interstate highway bridges have identifiable repair needs.

"Sadly, this report is no April Fool's joke. At the current pace, it would take more than 80 years to replace or repair the nation's structurally deficient bridges. That's longer than the average life expectancy of a person living in the U.S.," said Dr. Alison Premo Black, the ARTBA chief economist who conducted the analysis. "America's bridge network is outdated, underfunded, and in urgent need of modernization. State and local government just haven't been given the necessary resources to get the job done."

"The best way to 'bridge' the infrastructure investment gap is for Congress and Trump administration to provide a permanent revenue solution for the federal Highway Trust Fund," said ARTBA President Dave Bauer. "Since the 2016 election, leaders on both sides of the aisle have regularly cited upgrading America's infrastructure as an area for common ground. This report makes clear that it's about time Congress and the Trump administration stop talking and start solving this national problem."

States with the largest number of structurally deficient bridges are Iowa (4,675 bridges); Pennsylvania (3,770); Oklahoma (2,540); Illinois (2,273); Missouri (2,116); North Carolina (1,871); California (1,812); New York (1,757); Louisiana (1,678); and Mississippi (1,603).

On April 3, the American Trucking Associations announced it has started a new media and advocacy campaign highlighting the nation's deteriorating infrastructure and renewing the trucking industry's demand that the federal government increase its investment in U.S. roads and bridges. The campaign includes a new television commercial that has begun airing in the Washington, D.C., with additional markets to follow and a paid digital component. The ad will also be highlighted on a campaign website – Roadtoabetterfuture.com – that includes informational resources that illustrate the time and money motorists are losing due to poor infrastructure. The site and the commercial urge the public to call on their congressional representatives to take action.

"The dismal state of our nation's roads and bridges forces the average commuter to waste 42 hours a year sitting in traffic," said ATA President and CEO Chris Spear. "Between time lost and the $1,600 in vehicle damage and wasted gas the average American is saddled with, we are no longer at the brink – we are living in a crisis situation. The ATA is launching this campaign to highlight the very personal impact of poor roads and the urgency necessary for Congress and the [Trump] administration to take action. What's often missing from the infrastructure debate in Washington is the appreciation of the human toll and how the issue of crumbling roads and bridges impacts virtually every American, often with unfortunate consequences."

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