Bridges to Nowhere
- Written by Mark Kuhar
April 6, 2011 – Much was made about Alaska's "Bridge to Nowhere" in the contentious aftermath of the passage of SAFETEA-LU in 2005. But the real bridge to nowhere might be the one that's going to fall down in your state. One in nine of the bridges and overpasses that American drivers cross each day is rated in poor enough condition that they could become dangerous or be closed without near-term repair, according to a report released by Transportation for America. Nearly 70,000 bridges nationwide are rated “structurally deficient” and are in need of substantial repair or replacement, according to federal data. The Federal Highway Administration estimates that the backlog of potentially dangerous bridges would cost $70.9 billion to eliminate, while the federal outlay for bridges amounts to slightly more than $5 billion per year. The report, The Fix We’re In For: The State of the Nation’s Bridges, ranks states in terms of the overall condition of the state’s bridges, with one being the worst, 51 being the best. Twenty-three states across the country have a higher percentage of deficient bridges than the national average of 11.5 percent. The five states with the worst bridge conditions (more than 20 percent structurally deficient) are Pennsylvania, Oklahoma, Iowa, Rhode Island, and South Dakota.