Bridge Collapse Raises Infrastructure Awareness

The bridge collapse in Washington state has raised awareness across the county of bridges that may be rated “structurally deficient” or “functionally obsolete.”  Based on data provided in an article in STATELINE, approximately 25% of our nations bridges fall into one of these categories.

A bridge rated “functionally obsolete” does not meet current design standards for such things as lane width, often because current traffic volumes exceed what was expected when the bridge was built. In other cases, design standards have changed since construction. There are 84,748 bridges functionally obsolete bridges in the country, according to Federal Highway Administration data.

But another federal rating of bridges, “structurally deficient,” is worse. They are not necessarily unsafe, but are “characterized by deteriorated conditions of significant bridge elements and potentially reduced load carrying capacity,” according to the FHA. There are 66,749 of them in the country, and they require significant maintenance and repair to stay in service.

Another article in the USA Today highlights a report on aging infrastructure by the American Society of Civil Engineers.

The group gave the nation a C+ in its report card for maintaining bridges, saying federal, state and local governments need to increase bridge investment by $8 billion annually to meet the needs of deficient bridges.

Maryland has a total of 5,294 bridges.  Of this number, 368 are rated as “structurally deficient” and 1,099 are rates as “functionally obsolete.”