• Nov 11, 2009
Here's some bad news for all of us: Over 150,000 bridges in the U.S. have been judged to be "structurally deficient or functionally obsolete." And get this, there are less than 598,000 bridges in America. That means 25.7. And that's significantly lower than the national average.

What state has the most SD/FO bridges? Betcha never would have guessed the District of Columbia. For one thing, it's not even a state! For another, you'd think being in such close proximity to all that Washingtonian largesse would be good for something. Turns out, not. Anyhow, 55% of the bridges in our nation's capital are going to fall down/fail sooner than later says The Better Roads Bridge Inventory survey.

The actual State with the highest percentage of bad bridges is Rhode Island with 53. The really bad news, according to the frighteningly detailed article, is that all these numbers might be low.

[Source: Better Roads via The Car Connection | Image: Scott Olson/Getty]


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  • 46 Comments
      • 5 Years Ago
      How come these are always put out by the Engineering Associations. I think the ASCE came out with the same thing earlier in the year, trying to scare folks into supporting more bridge and highway funding. So, one of 10 million bridges in the US fell - oh no.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Current spending on roads and highways is significantly higher than the amount of money being collected by gas taxes- we need to raise more revenue in order to spend enough to fix this. In terms of "where does it go", the money goes to the states as grants to be allocated and spent unless it is earmarked for specific projects.
        lynette
        • 3 Years Ago
        The money may go to states but little actually makes it to roads and bridges. A huge percentage of what each state gets goes to mass transit, walking and biking trails and 'green' initiatives. We need to stop hijacking our road and bridge money and to start using it for what it was meant for.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Why would anyone be surprised by this statistic?

      This is what happens when you neglect your infrastructure.

      Go look at where we have been spending our money in this country over the past 30 years. It hasn't been on keeping our infrastructure maintained. Our bridges are falling apart, our roads and highways are torn up, our rail system is beyond antiquated, our electrical grid is out-dated, our school system is just pathetic. These are all the things that were completely and utterly neglected back in the 80s and now we are paying for it today. And it is going to cost a hell of a lot more money to replace a rusted-out bridge than it would have cost to maintain it properly over the last 30+ years. The money that the Prez has allocated to revitalize the nations infrastructure in the stimulus plan is a good start, but it's just that, a good START... and even then he got a ridiculous amount of opposition by the very groups that neglected the problems to begin with.

      It's time to invest in our nation again... imagine what the $2 TRILLION we have blown in Iraq (over a god damn lie) could have done to help improve the infrastructure back here at home.
      • 5 Years Ago
      But DON'T RAISE MY TAXES! This is what Reaganomics buys you, people!
        • 5 Years Ago
        Luis,

        The problem is not Reagenomics or any of your imagined conservative boogeymen. This country already collects enough in taxes to keep up our infrastructure. The feds get 18 cents a gallon in gas and most states collect 40 cents or more a gallon. And then there are tolls, registration fees, license fees, etc. Where does the money go? Apparently not to the highway fund. Most states like the feds put this into the general fund where it can be used for anything, like vote-buying schemes. A lot of the money ends up in earmarks, like your buddy Obama who spent over a billion dollars in earmarks while he was in the Senate. And he was only a Senator for 2 years! Ever try to spend a billion plus in 2 years? And he's just one of 535 who are spending money like there's no tomorrow on things they have no business spending it on. So the problem is government, the same government that you worship so much and seem to think is the answer to all our problems. That's the truth, you handle it.
        • 5 Years Ago
        You obviously can't handle the truth!
        • 5 Years Ago
        Even raising taxes will not fix this problem, The American government is inefficient and construction companies (any contractor for that matter) are corrupt. America spends too much on unnecessary wars, Army bases in foreign countries, and nation building of hopeless cases like Afghanistan. Your future liabilities will destroy you in the future (Medicare), but you seem unable to curtail the cost by adopting a single payer system ( the most efficient system unless you really want your government out of health care and eliminate medicare and stop accepting ER cases unless they have insurance). your political system is dysfunctional and most of your politicians don't care about the people as much as they care about surviving the next election cycle. All I can say is good luck America.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Don't you ever take a day off from being a complete ass?
        • 5 Years Ago
        They don't have to raise your taxes, just use the ones they already take more efficiently.
      • 5 Years Ago
      If you thought we needed justification for an increased fuel tax, here it is.

      We've been withdrawing from the postwar infrastructure investment account for decades. It's past time we started making real deposits.

      The transportation network makes the economy go; to argue that raising taxes to fund its maintenance and repair will hurt the economy is short-sighted in the extreme.
        • 5 Years Ago
        I'm not necessarily against raising the fuel excise taxes. But, there's a big difference between raising it 5-10 cents vs. raising it $1.50. I'm not in the camp that wants to artificially affect demand and consumers' choices by mandating significantly higher fuel prices for all.

        Nonetheless, I think it would help clear the air a bit if the funds collected for highway use were actually used for highways rather than being sent to the general fund to be used for whatever they want to apply it to. I believe in having that transparency all over gov't actually.
        • 5 Years Ago
        A ten-cent per gallon tax would raise over ten billion. Maybe not enough to get us out of the hole of neglect, but it's good perspective.

        As for the "general fund" comments, if more comes OUT of the general fund for transportation than goes INTO the general fund from transportation taxes... comment invalidated.
      • 5 Years Ago
      If the bridges in Michigan are half as bad as the roads, then we are screwed.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Stop complaining. Those aren't collapsed bridges you see, they're dukes-of-hazzard style jump ramps!
      • 5 Years Ago
      HEY!

      Jonny Lieberman,

      Enough with your crappy "sooner rather than later" literary crutch. You sound like a complete moron. Act (or write) as if you got past 7th grade English, please. I'm tired of it and there's really no excuse for being redundant when YOU GET PAID to write.

      Thanks in advance.
      • 5 Years Ago
      SF Bay Bridge is one them.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I call serious BS.

      What the heck is Functionally Obsolete mean? Its 2 lanes when it should be 4 lanes? There isn't the proper environmentally friendly drainage?

      So we take that grey term and lump it with the Structurally Deficient category and throw out a 25% number. How many of the 25% is SD and how many is FO whatever that means? 2/23?

      Secondly what qualifies as Structurally Deficient? One pothole?

      I smell an arm waving justification to throw a lot of taxpayer money for 'make work' programs and 'make friends rich' programs by the usual suspects.
      • 5 Years Ago
      This isn't news.

      Also, many of these bridges just weren't meant to last this long but are still in service. Also, our safety codes are a lot more strict than those of say China. Yeah, they have modernized cities like Shanghai but do you really want to look at the infrastructure of their smaller towns? They're just awful. Any engineer can see disaster just by inspection when visiting some of those places.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Is anyone surprised? At all? We've got the worst infrastructure in the first world transport, teclo, you name it. But improving it takes monies, lots of monies, and taxes are bad. Oh well, i'll avoid the bridges, except that new bridge across megatron's cell, that looks too big to fail.
        • 5 Years Ago
        "Where did all that money go?"

        $288 Billion went to tax cuts, in large part for the AMT waiver for upper middle class taxpayers (the Republican's big "bipartisan" contribution)

        $224 Billion went to extend unemployment benefits and other entitlements that were underfunded due to the recession

        $275 Billion went to everything else... However, most of the money spent so far has gone to education to prevent laying off teachers- primarily in states that have various fiscal constraints (like balanced budget ammendments) that prevent them from raising the necessary funds...

        About $30 billion goes to transportation- $8.5 to public transportation and $1.1 to FAA...

        In the end, only $20 Billion goes to highways and bridges... However, the states are the ones spending the money and very few of the projects have started in order for it to be spent.
        • 5 Years Ago
        "I'm all for cutting welfare, NEA, and NPR funds and repairing bridges."

        Me too, but only if we can also cut military spending by 60%. You OK with that?
        • 5 Years Ago
        Hey, I'm all for cutting welfare, NEA, and NPR funds and repairing bridges. In fact how abotu cutting all entitlements, fixing the bridges, and then cutting my taxes. That would work, but there are so many dependent idiots for whom the govt steals from me and others that it will never happen, so I say let the bridges crumble.

        Add to that you get structural engineers out there with the specific task of producing a fearful study to secure govt funds for their area of expertise thus securing their employment and what do you think you are going to get?
        • 5 Years Ago
        Even if there was capital for maintenance, a lot of the bridges would still be "inadequate" in pristine conditions. Saw this on a news report about bridges in America and a lot of bridges still in use today are from the 60s and earlier. Even in pristine conditions, these bridges don't meet today's safety standards. Additionally, the planned lifespan for some of these bridges have been exceeded. Some where designed to be in use for "only" 40 years. Engineers didn't design some of the bridges to be used for so long.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Functionally obsolete can include merely being not capable of carrying enough traffic for the situation. That's not particularly dangerous, and it isn't even something we must solve immediately or really ever.
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