INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. --They’re a familiar sight on every commute, but now a new study says thousands of American bridges are in disrepair.
According to the American Road and Transportation Builders Association, 56,000 bridges nation-wide are now “structurally deficient.”
The term doesn’t mean that the bridges are in danger of falling, but rather that one or more element of a bridge is in poor or worse condition.
“So they’re not inherently unsafe, but they are bridges where structural elements need repair,” ARTBA Chief Economist Alison Black said.
Black says the number of structurally deficient bridges decreases every year. However, at the current pace, it would take more than 20 years to repair every bridge. She says the bridges attached to the country’s rail system are the ones that will require specific attention.
“Those are bridges that really connect our economy so the issues and the challenges that they’re facing in the country, at least on that freight network , have an impact on getting goods from state to state and for businesses,” said Black.
According the report, Indiana has the 13th most structurally deficient bridges in the country. Seven of the top ten most traveled bridges in that list are in Marion County.
Will Wingfield with INDOT says despite the ranking, Indiana is doing well with fixing the “problem.” In 2015 the agency spent roughly $215 million to fix infrastructure.
“We’ve been able to reduce the number of bridges in poor condition the past few years significantly. But, we’re also facing the challenge where a lot of the bridges built with the interstate system are coming due for major maintenance in the near future,” he said.
With the current $215 million budget, roughly 8% of Indiana’s bridges are structurally deficient. Wingfield says with an ideal budget of $400 million, nearly every bridge could be repaired.
“So while we’ve been able to make a dent, we’re also planning for the future and wanting to make sure everybody is aware that’s a pressing need that will be coming up in a few years,” Wingfield said.
Hoosier lawmakers are currently working on a plan that would fund infrastructure repairs, though specifics of that plan may not be known until April.
For more on the ARTBA bridge study, click here.