Nearly 56,000 bridges nationwide, which vehicles cross 185 million times a day, are structurally deficient, a bridge construction group announced Wednesday.
The American Road and Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA) list of 55,710 deficient bridges includes high-profile spans such as Throgs Neck in New York, Yankee Doodle in Connecticut and Memorial Bridge in Washington, D.C.
The list is based on Transportation Department data. The department scores bridges on a nine-point scale, and while the deficient ones might not be imminently unsafe, they are classified in need of attention.
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 economics who conducted the analysis. “It is outdated, overused, underfunded and in desperate need of modernization.”
The five states with the most deficient bridges are Iowa with 4,968, Pennsylvania with 4,506, Oklahoma with 3,460, Missouri with 3,195 and Nebraska with 2,361.
The eight states where at least 15% of the bridges are deficient are: Rhode Island at 25%, Pennsylvania at 21%, Iowa and South Dakota at 20%, West Virginia at 17%, and Nebraska, North Dakota and Oklahoma at 15%.
In Virginia, the report says 945, or seven percent of bridges are structurally deficient, including the I-264 Lynnhaven Parkway overpass in Virginia Beach.
Finding a new funding stream for road and bridge construction is a priority for state and federal officials because the gas tax that primarily funds the highway trust fund hasn’t kept pace with construction priorities as cars become more efficient.
Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao said during her confirmation hearing that the highway trust fund is “a huge issue” because it spends $10 billion more each year than it collects.
President Trump has proposed a $1 trillion infrastructure program for the next decade, but the source of funding remains uncertain.
“State and local transportation departments haven’t been provided the resources to keep pace with the nation’s bridge needs,” Black said.
The new report lists three Hampton Roads bridges as the “Top Most Traveled Structurally Deficient Bridges in Virginia”.
I-264 over Lynnhaven Parkway, I-64 over Northampton Boulevard and Fort Eustis Boulevard over the Newport News reservoir.
Director of Engineering for the city of Newport News Everett Skipper, says Route 105 (Fort Eustis Blvd) Bridge sits at a 4.
Fixing the Newport News bridge alone will cost more than $19 million dollars
However, according to VDOT and city officials, because a bridge is “structurally deficient” does not mean it's going to collapse or that it is unsafe.
“The bridge is safe to drive on,” Everett says. “At a four, it's not ready to fall, but it starts at a 10 and we like to keep it that way.”
Work has already started to fix the Fort Eustis Boulevard bridge.
Preliminary work started in 2015.
There are two other bridges in Newport News that are listed as structurally deficient, the Denbigh Boulevard Bridge and Lake Maury Bridge.
“It can be confusing because you hear deficient and think we have to replace it today, but no,” Everett says. “If there is a threat then we close it.”
To read more on the project status on Route 105 (Fort Eustis Blvd) Bridge over the Newport News (Lee Hall) Reservoir Replacement Project, visit http://gis2.nngov.com/projectstatus/#/projects/1647