09 May 02
Report warns of wear on US' deteriorating bridges
Approximately one in four of the major, heavily-travelled bridges in the US is deficient and in need of repair or replacement, according to national nonprofit transportation research group, The Road Information Programme (TRIP). The study, 'Showing Their Age: The Nation's Bridges at 40,' found that 14% of the country's bridges are structurally deficient, showing significant deterioration to decks and other major components. In addition, 14% are functionally obsolete. These bridges no longer meet modern design standards for safety features such as lane widths or alignment with connecting roads or no longer are adequate for the volume of traffic being carried. Nearly half of the nation's bridges - 48% -were built from 1950 to 1980, with the 1960s being the greatest bridge-building era, when 19% of the bridges open to traffic were built, according to TRIP. 'Our bridges are a visible sign of an aging and overburdened roadway system,' said William M. Wilkins, TRIP's executive director. 'While there has been a small reduction in the percentage of the nation's deficient bridges since 1995, from 32% to 28%, as a result of increased funding, the tremendous growth in car and truck travel combined with a possible cut in federal and state highway funding, may reverse recent gains in overall bridge conditions,' Wilkins said. A US Department of Transportation (US DOT) report to Congress concluded that investment in the nation's bridges should be increased by 44%, from US$8.1 billion annually to US$11.7 billion, an increase of US$3.6 billion a year.