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Thursday, September 28, 2023

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New Study Exposes Alarming Bridge Maintenance Issues

According to the American Road & Transportation Builders Associations’ (ARTBA) analysis of the recently released U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) 2023 National Bridge Inventory (NBI) database, there are more than 222,000 bridges in the U.S. that are in need of major repairs or are in such bad condition a full bridge replacement is needed. 

These 222,000 bridges that are in bad condition represent 36% of all the structures in the United States.

If you were to connect all 222,000 bridges end-to-end, it would stretch more than 6,100 miles and take more than 110 hours to cross at an average speed of 55-miles-per-hour, according to ARTBA Chief Economist Dr. Alison Premo Black, who conducted the analysis.

Based on a cost data analysis performed by Black, these repairs and replacements would cost over $319 billion. The data was submitted directly to the DOT from each state.

According to the 2021 federal Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), states have access to $10.6 billion in bridge formula funds that can be used for these repairs. 

Additionally, within the next three years, $15.9 billion will be made available for states to use for these repairs.

States have committed $3.2 billion, or 30% of available bridge formula funds to 2,060 different bridge projects, with $7.4 billion yet to be used.

Eight states committed more than two-thirds of their available bridge formula funds: Idaho with 100%, Georgia 100%, Alabama 97%, Arizona 88%, Indiana 81.5%, Florida 80%, Texas 78%, and Arkansas 68%.

“The good news is that states are beginning to employ these new resources to address long-overdue bridge needs,” ARTBA President & CEO Dave Bauer said. “The better news is that more improvements are on the way.”

“Most bridges are inspected every two years, so it takes time for repairs and rehabilitation efforts to show up in the annual federal data,” said ARTBA Chief Economist Dr. Alison Premo Black. “What we do know now from other market indicators is that there are more bridge projects in the pipeline.”

The analysis also found that the number of  bridges in poor condition has gone down by 560 compared to 2022. At the current pace, it would take 75 years to repair them all.

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