Built to last 50 years, the bulk of the nation's 590,000 bridges are 43 years old. And 74,000 bridges (12.4%) have one or more aspects of a structural
Built to last 50 years, the bulk of the nation's 590,000 bridges are 43 years old. And 74,000 bridges (12.4%) have one or more aspects of a structural condition that requires attention. Meanwhile, truck traffic has nearly doubled in the past 20 years, and the trucking industry is pushing for even heavier loads.
ìWe are facing a perfect storm regarding our bridges,î says Malcolm T. Kerley, chief engineer with the Virginia Department of Transportation. Testifying on behalf of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, Kerley told members of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Highways and Transit that ìcurrent funding levels are not adequate for the job at hand.
ìStates need federal funding to reduce the slippage of bridges into the structurally deficient category,î Kerley says. ìAnd we all get more bang for our taxpayer buck by preserving a bridge early in its life, rather than by having to completely replace it later on down the road.
ìCurrent law requires states to address the worse deficient bridges first, but this approach doesn't work,î Kerley testified. ìIf we had all the funding we needed, states could immediately reconstruct or rehabilitate all structurally deficient bridges ó fixing the worst first, while simultaneously investing to prevent an even larger number of bridges from deteriorating just enough to push them over the edge to structural deficiency. We call these cusp bridges, those bridges which we can prevent from becoming structurally deficient.î