One out of every four United States bridges needs repairs and updating according to the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO). The total estimated cost of repairs is US$140 billion, and will continue to rise if not dealt with immediately, according to the report published by AASHTO.

Eric Brandt.

A picture of the collapsing I-35W bridge back in 2007.
Image: Eric Brandt.

The necessity for bridge repairs has been just one of the infrastructure needs for which federal assistance has been requested by some state officials. Governor Ed Rendell of Pennsylvania said that, “we need federal intervention, and federal intervention at a big level.”

Additionally, Rendell stated that, “no matter how hard a state applies its efforts and its resources to this problem, it’s never going to make enough of a dent without significantly and radically increased federal help.”

“States are doing their best to improve them, but construction costs are skyrocketing … forcing states to delay needed repairs,” said Pete K. Rahn, head of the Missouri Department of Transportation and AASHTO president to Associated Press. “Without a national commitment to increasing bridge investment, we will see a continuing spiral towards deterioration and, ultimately, bridge closures in order to protect the traveling public.”

AASHTO’s report, titled “Bridging the Gap: Restoring and Rebuilding the Nation’s Bridges”, stated that nearly every one in five bridges is 50-years-old or older. Furthermore, of the 600,000 U.S. bridges, nearly 152,000 (about one in four) need significant repair. “Almost one in four bridges, while safe to travel, is either structurally deficient, in need of repair.” The report notes that the average age of American bridges is 43 years.

The report was released just days prior to the one-year anniversary of the August 1, 2007 I-35W bridge collapse, which resulted in the death of 13 people.

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