Better Bridges: Bridge Inventory 2009 State of Bridges
The Better Roads Bridge Inventory is an exclusive, award-winning annual survey that has been conducted since 1979. Bridge engineers from every state and Washington, D.C., are set a survey with both qualitative and quantitative questions. The Federal Highway Administration, in consultation with the states, has assigned a sufficiency rating, or SR, to each bridge (20 feet or more) that is inventoried. Formula SR rating factors are as outlined in the current Recording and Coding Guide for Structures Inventory and Appraisal SI&A of the Nation’s Bridges. The qualitative data is gathered through a questionnaire about major issues concerning bridge conditions and maintenance.
Shockingly high number of bridges remain sub-standard.
There are 597,787 bridges in America, 288,920 interstate and state bridges and 308,867 city/county/township bridges.
But 21.6 percent – or 62,504 – of the interstate and state bridges are structurally deficient (SD) or functionally obsolete (FO). And 25.7 percent of the city/county/township bridges – or 79,394 – are SD/FO.
Maintenance, personnel, training, age, environmental restrictions, a need to minimize traffic disruption, capacity and corrosion issues remain major barriers to lowering the rate of bridges becoming deficient, despite some respite coming from stimulus fund money.
Texas leads the nation with the most combined structurally deficient and functionally obsolete bridges. The state has 9,564 — 19 percent — of its total 50,316 bridges as SD/FO. Of the total 32,862 interstate and state bridges, 4,182, or 31 percent, are SD/FO. Of the 17,454 total city/county/township bridges, 5,383 or 13 percent are SD/FO.
Pennsylvania is second with 9,130 of its total 23,562 bridges, or 39 percent, as SD/FO. The state has 16,668 total interstate and state bridges, with 5,971 — 36 percent — reported as SD/FO. Forty-six percent, or 3,159 of all the state’s 6,875 city/county/township bridges are considered SD/FO.State officials note that funding is the greatest challenge to lowering the state’s rate of bridge deterioration, but corrosion, heavy salt use and more traffic than bridges were designed to carry cause the greatest damage.
But, Lance Savant, P.E., with Pennsylvania Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Design, says his state expects to be able to lower its rate of its structurally deficient and functionally obsolete in the coming year. “Pennsylvania has its accelerated bridge program which focuses on replacing/repairing SD bridges,” Savant says. Nonetheless, bridges could certainly be improved if the state could “devote more funds to bridge preservation…to keep the good bridges good,” he says. Many of the other states’ agencies echo the same sentiment.
Following Pennsylvania, in order,the other top five states with the highest number of combined total SD/FO bridges are Missouri, Ohio, and Oklahoma.
Missouri has 24,096 total bridges, a combined total of 7,103, or 29 percent, which are SD/FO. There are 10,249 total interstate and state bridges, 2,838, or 28 percent, of which are SD/FO. Of the 13,847 total city/county/township bridges, 4,265, or 31 percent are SD/FO.
Ohio has 6,993 — 23 percent — of the total 30,617 in the state being SD/FO. Of the total 11,639 interstate and state bridges, 2,475, or 21 percent, are SD/FO. Of the total 18,978 city/county/township bridges, 4,518, or 24 percent, are SD/FO.
Finally, 6,904, or 29 percent, of Oklahoma’s 23,646 total bridges are SD/FO. Of its 7,660 total interstate and state bridges, 1,639, or 21 percent, are SD/FO. Thirty-three percent, or 5,265, of the state’s 15,986 total city/county/township bridges are SD/FO.
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