A significant number of the 620,000 bridges in the United States need major upgrades or replacements, a new report shows.
According to Axios, the report released by the American Road & Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA) indicates that 36% of America’s bridges — equivalent to approximately 224,000 spans — are in need of repair. The report also recommends replacing an estimated 78,800 bridges.
These infrastructures are critical as vehicles cross these infrastructures approximately 167.5 million times a day.
Per Axios: “Bunks of concrete fall off bridges with some regularity, and routine inspections often reveal problems that prompt authorities to close lanes or close a bridge to heavy vehicles to reduce weight loading.”
Speaking to Axios, Alison Premo Black, senior vice president and chief economist at ARTBA, commented on the progress being made in bridge repairs. She also commented on incidents like the recent one in Pittsburgh, Penn. As previously reported, a bridge in Pittsburgh collapsed just hours before President Joe Biden was scheduled to visit the city to discuss infrastructure updates.
“Progress is being made – it’s very slow going,” Black said. “It’s just very disturbing [accidents like Pittsburgh] can still happen despite all steps being taken to ensure the safety of the traveling public.”
Kevan Stone, executive director of the National Association of County Engineers, also shared his concerns about the improvements needed to America’s infrastructure.
“You just have these cities that are growing at an unprecedented rate, and the infrastructure was never designed to handle the amount of traffic that these structures have to handle every day,” Stone said.
Matti Kuivalainen, CEO of Dywidag, one of the world’s best-known bridge builders and engineering firms, explained what needs to be done to keep America’s infrastructure safe and up to date.
“We need to monitor a bridge’s actual behavior versus how it’s supposed to behave,” Kuivalainen told Axios. “Together with physical inspections, this will help the DOT identify bridges at risk and prioritize repairs and replacement projects.”
Kuivalainen also noted that “regulation is needed”.