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Nearly 56,000 Bridges Called Structurally Deficient (usatoday.com) 243

schwit1 quotes a report from USA Today: Nearly 56,000 bridges nationwide, which vehicles cross 185 million times a day, are structurally deficient, a bridge construction group announced Wednesday. 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 "It is outdated, overused, underfunded and in desperate need of modernization."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%.
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Nearly 56,000 Bridges Called Structurally Deficient

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  • Hoorah (Score:4, Funny)

    by subk ( 551165 ) on Wednesday February 15, 2017 @07:27PM (#53876773)
    Finally a list of items ranked by state in which Alabama and Mississippi aren't the worst.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 15, 2017 @07:28PM (#53876785)

    bridges that need to be widened to handle additional traffic are not "structurally deficient"

    Just because a bridge is old doesn't mean it's unsafe. In Europe, a 50 year old bridge is likely to be called "the new bridge" and have people griping that it's not as good/pretty/whatever as the "old" bridge

    how many of the other bridges are just fine as is, but could stand to be upgraded for various reasons other than that they are deteriorating?

    once you start lying about things, how can we trust anything that you say?

    David Lang

    • by PPH ( 736903 )

      bridges that need to be widened

      Or raised. [11foot8.com] Because truck drivers basically say 'Fuck you' when you put up a sign for an over height/weight/width detour.

    • by ScienceofSpock ( 637158 ) <.moc.liamg. .ta. .eneerg.htiek.> on Wednesday February 15, 2017 @08:28PM (#53877105) Homepage

      bridges that need to be widened to handle additional traffic are not "structurally deficient"

      I'd say technically, that is EXACTLY what they are. Their structure is lacking the width to handle current traffic levels, therefore it's structurally deficient. What you probably mean is that a bridge that is labeled as "structurally deficient" doesn't necessarily mean unsafe, but a bridge that needs to be widened to handle traffic is most certainly structurally deficient.

      /pedantry

    • Maybe we should reduce the number of cards on the road rather than trying to rebuild 1076 bridges per week... We could build places where people live together and call them cities, and build vehicles that carry multiple people and call them trains, and hire a plumber from Brooklyn to fix the evil in the world and call him Mario...

    • bridges that need to be widened to handle additional traffic are not "structurally deficient"

      Well, yes and no.

      If traffic patterns result in a bridge continually carrying more load (of slowly moving and stopped cars) than it was designed for, then it is "structurally deficient". Widening it to handle additional traffic could remedy the issue.

      The report distinguishes between "structurally deficient" and "functionally obsolete", which refers to bridges that simply don't meet current standards, like lane width.

    • In Europe, a 50 year old bridge is likely to be called "the new bridge" and have people griping that it's not as good/pretty/whatever as the "old" bridge

      Its true that, although sometimes the new bridge isn't even that new - http://www.sabre-roads.org.uk/... [sabre-roads.org.uk]

  • Those bridges are all in Pittsburgh alone. Wonder how many there would be if other cities were considered ...
  • Surprising (Score:4, Funny)

    by amicusNYCL ( 1538833 ) on Wednesday February 15, 2017 @07:29PM (#53876791)

    The most surprising thing about this story for me is that Iowa needs 5,000 bridges.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by DogDude ( 805747 )
      Iowa gets a LOT of welfare from the coastal states. The infrastructure there is great. Tons and tons of barely used roads (and bridges, obviously). People in the least dense parts of the state even get fiber to their doors.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by rickb928 ( 945187 )

        A common complaint against rural America.

        Considering the cost of s single mile of subway in Manhattan, or the cost of a high-speed rail line between Los Angeles and San Fransicso, bridges in Iowa are probably cheap per mile, foot, or pound.

        And considering that Iowa is where much food for Manhattan, LA, and San Francisco comes from, roads and bridges there should be of some interest to urban Americans.

        THIS is why we should either look to Washington to continue to pay for maintenance and improvement of the In

        • And considering that Iowa is where much food for Manhattan, LA, and San Francisco comes from

          "Much of"? How much of? The agriculture in Iowa is federally subsidized with tax money collected from Manhattan, LA and San Francisco. Without those subsidies, Iowa would be Oklahoma.

        • by Ichijo ( 607641 )

          And considering that Iowa is where much food for Manhattan, LA, and San Francisco comes from, roads and bridges there should be of some interest to urban Americans.

          Sure, we will maintain the roads and bridges on our side of the state line, but if Iowa wants to sell us food, isn't that sufficient economic incentive for them to maintain the roads and bridges in their state?

          Let Washington give them enough money to do so but give it to them unconditionally so we can see whether maintaining ALL of their existin

          • by swb ( 14022 )

            If Iowa wants to sell you food or if you want to eat?

            I also don't think "Iowa" as in the State Government makes a lot of decisions as to whether its commodities move by rail or road, I think the private sector makes that decision as to which makes the most economic sense.

            I'd also wonder how many of these bridges in trouble are on main transit/shipping routes and how many are highway overpasses or creek/river bridges on small highways. Farmer Jones may rely on them to get to fields or get agricultural consu

            • Re:Surprising (Score:5, Insightful)

              by psycho12345 ( 1134609 ) on Wednesday February 15, 2017 @09:13PM (#53877369)

              "If Iowa wants to sell you food or if you want to eat?"

              There is a reason agriculture is at the bottom of the economic food chain. I can choose to buy my food elsewhere, it will be just more expensive. Iowa being unable to sell its food, will have basically nothing.

              This is a common argument against urban america "You urbanites need our food!". The reality is, no they don't, but the rural areas surely need the technology, transportation, trade and manufacturing. The real world examples of this in action is Hong Kong and Singapore, neither of which can produce food on any scale, yet have no issues with feeding their populaces.

              There is a reason the US and most of the developed world has steadily urbanized. In more recent history, see the mass migrations from eastern China to the coasts.

              • As you say the cost of food is usually the main issue when it comes to importing food. The question is whether or not it is cheaper to pay for infrastructure and grow food in country, or neglect infrastructure and import most of the food.

                Of course even if importing ends up being the cheaper option what happens in times of emergency or changes in the political landscape. What if relations with food importers sour and they refuse to sell us food, are you going to suddenly restart the agriculture industry that

        • Our new President understands facilities maintenance and renovation as necessary and profitable.

          I'm seriously dying laughing over here. Have you ever stayed at a Trump hotel? They're great when they're brand new but they never get maintained or renovated when they really need it.

        • Our new President understands facilities maintenance and renovation as necessary and profitable.

          This is untrue, at least effectively. The problem with infrastructure in this country is that it isn't compatible with our current politics. Infrastructure doesn't get out the vote -- it's not a divisive issue. It's also not something where you can distribute pork around the country in the form of, say, NASA supply contracts. I have a bit of a hobby horse going on with this issue, but I do see this as being a result of two-party politics and ultimately our voting method (FPTP). Since our political process d

          • "Since our political process demands that we be sorted into two groups"

            No, but it is certainly simpler for the method we use. And behold, while we have a party nominee elected, he is not really a member of that party. He usurped the nomination process, and there is some fairly weak but useful evidence that he could have won if he had not, but been a third-party candidate - he did, after all, receive little support from that party.

            But 'demands' is hopefully your shorthand for 'encourages'.

            And a two-party sys

      • Yeah, Iowa's #43 in per capita Federal spending for 2013 based on the 2014 Pew Trust spending report, getting roughly $25B. (Source: Wikipedia...) Meanwhile, we were #37 on per capital Federal tax contributions for 2015 (roughly $24B). Sorry, I can't quickly find numbers from the same exact year, but 2013 vs. 2015 wasn't that much different. Really suckin' at the ol' government teat there, eh?

        We'd do just fine without the coastal states, but we have no oil, and they have inadequate agriculture to feed t

      • by KlomDark ( 6370 )

        I was very shocked a couple weeks ago. I went to visit an old friend who now lives in a tiny Iowa town called Dayton. While I had zero signal on my AT&T phone there, he had gig fiber to his house. A total WTF moment. I live in the downtown area of a mid-large city and cannot get fiber to my house.

    • Re:Surprising (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Harlequin80 ( 1671040 ) on Wednesday February 15, 2017 @07:35PM (#53876831)

      Not really. You probably don't even notice the vast majority of the ones you drive over. Every small water course will be crossed by a small pre-stressed concrete bridge. Installation costs on those are tiny, they last for ages and the engineering component of them is minimal. Generally when people say bridge they imagine the large span ones, where as the huge majority are tiny tiny things.

      Construction wise pushing 2 piles of dirt each side of railway line, waiting 12 months for it to settle and harden and then sticking a 6m concrete span across is a very cheap. very easy way of crossing the rail line. It is marginal on cost on a controlled crossing and heaps more efficient and safer.

    • Re:Surprising (Score:4, Interesting)

      by quonset ( 4839537 ) on Wednesday February 15, 2017 @08:07PM (#53876991)

      The most surprising thing about this story for me is that Iowa needs 5,000 bridges.

      You shouldn't be. I drove through part of it last year (a very small corner of it) and being a relatively flat state (compared to PA), they need bridges to cross the roads, otherwise you'd have intersections all over the place, not to mention any rivers (creeks compared to rivers in the east) and those oddball depressions one comes across.

      For example, if you take Exit 10 off of 29 N, you are at a bridge. That bridge is 29 N but under it is Route 2. Imagine if you had an intersection of 29, which is a highway, meeting a smaller, slower road such as Route 2.

      Nebraska and South Dakota were the same way. Relatively flat states but lots of bridges to go over the other roads.

      • Surely they could use tunnels to avoid having so many bridges?

        • At multiple times the cost of a bridge, for sure. Tunneling isn't cheap, and at that scale you're going to need ventilation, lighting, and drainage systems. In a fairly flat place, a tunnel is going to be the lowest point for miles around. This isn't like mountain tunneling where you can use a slight incline at the center of the tunnel or have one end higher than the other to ensure that you don't make a lake in the middle of it.

    • by AHuxley ( 892839 )
      Different areas of the USA had different funding over the decades and ideas about what to do about rural isolation.
      e.g. one existing toll bridge vs building more free bridges.
      Louisiana politician Huey Long
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org]
      "... built 111 bridges and started construction on the first bridge over the Mississippi entirely in Louisiana ..."
      The problem for the USA is later funding needed to look after what was built over the years.
  • by rmdingler ( 1955220 ) on Wednesday February 15, 2017 @07:33PM (#53876809) Journal
    In other news, 90% of the time I take my automobile to a mechanic or my body to a physician, it turns out I need some work done.
    • That's different, the mechanic gets money from you directly (the physician analogy is not relevant in many countries). The people writing these reports are NOT getting a direct benefit from th reports. It's a lazy statement of someone unaware of their function. Most likely it's a group of people from academia, public works and yes industry that make the point. While the guys from the industry may have some monetary interest, it doesn't affect the other groups.

      Actually, if you bother reading those reports, y

  • by turkeydance ( 1266624 ) on Wednesday February 15, 2017 @07:38PM (#53876849)
    was on one of my evaluation reports. i think.
  • Liquid fuels tax (Score:5, Insightful)

    by tomhath ( 637240 ) on Wednesday February 15, 2017 @08:01PM (#53876955)
    FTFA:

    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....

    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.

    Efficient cars aren't the problem. The problem is that legislatures can't keep their grubby hands off that money. Pennsylvania is second on the list, yet it has the highest fuel tax rate in the country, How can that be? Because about half the money is diverted away from road and bridge construction to projects like mass transportation and funding the state police.

    • Re:Liquid fuels tax (Score:4, Interesting)

      by bdcrazy ( 817679 ) <bdc_tggr-forums@yahoo.com> on Wednesday February 15, 2017 @08:13PM (#53877033) Homepage

      As part of the election last november in Illinois. A lockbox provision was approved so that "transportation taxes" must only be spent on "transportation." I have been doing professional engineering services and consulting for IDOT, the Illinois Tollway, O'Hare, UP, CN railways etc. for 17 years, and it STILL took me a while to go through all the legalese on that question. It seems pretty thorough; Alas, I'm not a lawyer and currently waiting for all the legal contortions that will be spent to still spend that money on things that aren't quite related to transportation.

    • by Uberbah ( 647458 )

      Because about half the money is diverted away from road and bridge construction to projects like mass transportation

      Mass transit reduces stress on roads and bridges. Sounds like you're cutting off the nose to spite the face.

    • "Mass transportation", like its name indicates, transports massive numbers of people. When more people use mass transit, fewer roads need to be built (and then maintained). This can save money overall for the government.

  • by Noishkel ( 3464121 ) on Wednesday February 15, 2017 @08:02PM (#53876969)
    Funny thing too, because I remember how Obama's stimulus plan was supposed to go towards this sort of issues. Although where I lived the money my town got for it was all spent on replacing the fully functional street lamps with new ones that looked nicer and a bike land literally no one has ever used due to being in rural Mississippi.
  • by ChrisMaple ( 607946 ) on Wednesday February 15, 2017 @08:18PM (#53877059)

    "Structurally Deficient" has legal and engineering meaning (which may vary by state) and does not necessarily mean a bridge is unsafe. Quite often, it means that the bridge must have a sign in front of it stating a maximum gross vehicle weight.

    Also, what qualifies as a bridge subject to government attention? Do you have a 20 foot concrete culvert passing under the road? That's a bridge, and the government (correctly) pays attention to it. But it isn't necessarily a big deal.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Pete Smoot ( 4289807 )

      "Structurally Deficient" has legal and engineering meaning...and does not necessarily mean a bridge is unsafe.

      Thank you for clarifying. I'm quite certain the average Joe reading the article thinks "structurally deficient" means "dear Lord, you wouldn't catch me driving over that death trap." I don't think the authors, a construction group, has much interest in clarifying that. They want to drum up fear and dollars.

  • Bridges are a local problem (state and county level) interestingly enough the top 4, maybe 5 are the biggest butthurt about "dey took ur jeobs"

    how's that small limited government working for you, oh you want aid to fix your bridges AND your horse and buggy economies

    ugh

    • Missouri had just switched from a Republican trifecta to Republican controlled state houses [ballotpedia.org] with a Democratic governor when it started and successfully completed a project to replace or repair 802 bridges in 4 years [modot.gov], with project planning beginning in late 2008 and construction starting in 2009 and ending in 2012, on budget and 14 months ahead of schedule. And then the Republicans cut the budget so now we can only handle 100 bridges a year, just barely keeping our heads above water, as about 100/year go in

    • by moeinvt ( 851793 )

      Explain exactly how the problem with infrastructure is "small, limited government"? I see government at all levels growing every single year.

      The only states that are really cutting things right now are the Dakotas, but that's only because they cranked up spending like crazy with the extra revenue from the oil boom(government couldn't just keep budgets stable and have a surplus, they had to spend every last f***ing penny) and are now having to scale back as those revenues have dried up.

      Yeah, we sure have "

  • 2013 (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Pretzalzz ( 577309 ) on Wednesday February 15, 2017 @09:02PM (#53877307)

    In 2013, 66,749 [infrastruc...rtcard.org] bridges were considered structurally deficient. This is a 17% decrease in the last 4 years. I think this should count as good news.

  • I mean I know the article came from USA Today but other than that, there was no indication that these bridges all resided in the United States.

    I live in California but I think this really should be addressed. Slashdot isn't a U.S. only tech site.

    Cheers,
    NowGetOffMyLawn

    • With terms like "nationwide" and naming several states in the summary, I think it's a reasonable thing to assume.

  • by Notabadguy ( 961343 ) on Wednesday February 15, 2017 @09:25PM (#53877447)

    Nearly 56,000 bridges nationwide, which vehicles cross 185 million times a day, are structurally deficient, a bridge construction group announced Wednesday.

    Let's see what I can do with this sort of headline.

    -Nearly 56,000 projects nationwide are managed by insufficiently trained project managers, the Project Manager Institute announced Wednesday.
    -Nearly 56,000 unions nationwide, which employ 36 million workers are insufficiently funded, a union advocacy group announced Wednesday.
    -Nearly 56,000 XYZ nationwide, which are important for ABC reasons, need more money, said a group who's business is XYZ, and who would get most of the money if such money were allocated.

    To any interested parties, the Notabadguy Institute would like to note that Notabadguy needs structural investment and more money. Perhaps some of that internet money.

    In other news, to no one's surprise, BeauHD continues her unbroken record of being a shitty editor looking for partisan news to throw at the slashdot masses. Thanks for being a cuntwaffle.

  • Obama has thousands of "shovel ready" jobs ready to fix our roads and bridges and...oh, wait a minute.

  • The list of 'structurally deficient' bridges includes the WA Hwy 520 bridge over Lake Washington, completed in 2016. It is not structurally deficient.

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