How many times have you driven across a bridge and thought, “What are the chances that this just collapsed under me?” And then you gave yourself a shake and then thought, “Nah! It’s probably structurally sound!” Well, maybe. Maaaaybe.
According to a list released by the American Road and Transportation Builders Association, there are 55,710 structurally deficient bridges in the United States, over which 185 million daily crossings occur, reports USA Today. About 1,900 of those bridges are on the Interstate Highway System.
Though “structurally deficient” doesn’t necessarily mean immediately dangerous, it does mean that the bridge is in need of urgent attention, according to USA Today:
More than one in four bridges (173,919) are at least 50 years old and have never had major reconstruction work, according to the ARTBA analysis. State transportation officials have identified 13,000 bridges along interstates that need replacement, widening or major reconstruction, according to the group.
“America’s highway network is woefully underperforming,” said Alison Premo Black, the group’s chief economist who conducted the analysis. “It is outdated, overused, underfunded and in desperate need of modernization.”
According to the list, the five states with the highest number of structurally deficient bridges are Iowa, Pennsylvania, Oklahoma, Missouri and Nebraska. The ones with the lowest are Washington D.C., Nevada, Delaware, Hawaii and Utah.
I was also delighted to learn that one of the structurally deficient bridges includes the Brooklyn Bridge, which has 134,174 daily crossings.
President Donald Trump promised to revitalize U.S. roads, bridges and airports within his first 100 days in office, proposing investments of up to $1 trillion. Where this money is coming from remains unclear, though his team has indicated a desire to incentivize private companies to back infrastructure projects.
Part of the issue stems from the fact that the government is more inclined to invest in new projects. Ribbon-cutting stuff. Rebuilding an old bridge isn’t glamorous and it doesn’t usually get you a glossy front-page photo. But it needs to be done, as The New York Times points out in a warning about the Oroville dam crisis.
Besides, how else do you think Godzilla ripped through that bridge with such ease?