65K Bridges in the U.S. Deemed ‘Structurally Deficient’
Analysis of the most recent federal National Bridge Inventory shows 65,605 bridges across the U.S. are “structurally deficient,” according to the Associated Press.
The AP review of 607,380 bridges also found 20,808 were deemed “fracture critical” – meaning they have no redundant protections that would stop them from collapsing in the event that a single, vital part fails.
A structurally deficient bridge is one in need of rehabilitation or replacement due to faulty or deteriorating components.
There were 7,795 bridges that were both structurally deficient and fracture critical. According to the AP, those bridges carry more than 29 million drivers every day. More than 400 of them are in New York State, and one of them is the renowned Brooklyn Bridge.
"It was designed before vehicles were in existence, and it's never going to be corrected for those things," Richard Marchione, head of the state Department of Transportation's Office of Structures, explained. "To maintain it is a big proposition for the traffic it now carries."
The Brooklyn Bridge, built in 1883, is currently undergoing a $500 million reconstruction that will take four years to complete, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Spokesman for the New York State Department of Transportation, Beau Duffy, said these bridges are not in imminent danger of collapse.
"If it's open, it's not unsafe," Duffy told the Wall Street Journal.
But construction attorney Barry LePatner says that is not the case.
"The physics is that they could fall at a moment's notice, or next month or next year — if they're left in the current condition," LePatner told the Journal. "It's a ticking time bomb."
State officials and engineers also say the bridges are safe. However, Minneapolis bridge collapse of 2007 was a structurally deficient bridge. The Instate 5 bridge collapse in Washington in May was a fracture critical bridge.
"I say, you have a legal, moral and ethical obligation as stewards of the traveling public not to let people go over something that's unsafe," said LePatner, author of the book "Too Big to Fall: America's Failing Infrastructure and the Way Forward."