By Ethan Barton
Nearly one-quarter of U.S. bridges – or around 150,000 – are “structurally deficient” and have at least one element “in poor condition,” according to a congressional watchdog.
“Bridge safety remains a high-priority issue for our transportation system,” a Government Accountability Office report released Monday said. “Despite recent progress in improving bridge conditions,” nearly one-quarter of the nation’s more than 610,000 bridges are deficient.
Of those, 10 percent have “one or more structural components, such as a deck that carries vehicles, in poor condition,” and 14 percent have a “design that may no longer be adequate for traffic it serves, such as being too narrow,” the report said.
The GAO reported these shoddy bridges nearly seven years after President Obama’s $830 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act – the stimulus that was supposed to fund thousands of “shovel-ready” infrastructure projects.
The number of deficient bridges decreased by one-fifth and more than 2,000 bridges were built from 2005 to 2014.
Seven states and Puerto Rico, however, saw as many as 52 percent more structurally deficient bridges, and obsolete bridges increased in 17 states and Puerto Rico by as many as 36 percent.
More than 143,000 bridges are part of the National Highway System, though state and local agencies own 99 percent of those, according to GAO. Around one-fifth of the NHS bridges are considered deficient.
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