- Some of the worst bridges in the U.S. are in West Virginia, Iowa, and Rhode Island.
- In West Virginia, 21% or 1,531 of these bridges are classified as structurally deficient by the Federal Highway Administration.
- In Iowa, there are 4,575 bridges that have been classified as structurally deficient by the FHWA.
Do you feel a sense of fear or anxiety as you drive over bridges in America? Well, these emotions are not unwarranted; the reality is some American bridges are on the brink of decay. From broken concrete to unsteady beams, ineffectual bridges can easily impede traffic flow and endanger drivers’ lives.
Ready to discover which states have the most damaged bridges? Let’s take a look at our top 10 list of states with structurally deficient bridges.
1. West Virginia
Did you know that West Virginia had roughly 7,314 bridges in 2022? Unfortunately, around 21% or 1,531 of these bridges are classified as structurally deficient by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA). Even more alarming is that almost half of these complex structures are rural highways used daily.
Furthermore, 90 of these bridges are located on interstate highways. The most used bridge is I-64 over county route 61/12 in Kanawha County. This bridge was built in 1974 and today promotes 203,758 daily crossings.
In 2020, state officials replaced the bridge’s deck in hopes of raising its condition to ‘fair’ during the next inspection. However, a lot of work still needs to be done to ensure the safety of West Virginia’s bridges. It’s estimated that the state needs around $2.0 billion for bridge repairs.
Iowa is home to approximately 24,043 bridges, which is a vast number. Unfortunately, a staggering 4,575 bridges across the state have been classified as structurally deficient by the FHWA. That’s nearly 20% of the state’s bridges. However, there is some relief; this number has dropped since 2015 when it was at an even higher 4,719.
Of all the structurally deficient bridges, only six are on interstate highways. Fortunately, the state of Iowa has been making considerable improvements in recent years. A whopping 11 million dollars have gone towards bridge upgrades since 2005! Putting safety first and investing in infrastructure repair is essential. It will enable future generations to continue to enjoy reliable transportation routes across the state.
The U.S. Highway 67 bridge has been making headlines recently. It continues to captivate the public’s attention with its story of renewal and progress. In an effort to honor the Master Sgt., this bridge was officially renamed Stanley Talbot Memorial Bridge. It has been used since its grand opening in 1940. The bridge connects Davenport, Iowa, and Rock Island, Illinois across the mighty Mississippi River.
3. Rhode Island
Out of the 779 bridges in Rhode Island, 174 (or 22.3%) were classified as structurally deficient by the FHWA in 2019. Much needs to be done to ensure that all of the state’s bridges are in top shape.
Of those substandard bridges, 25 are located on interstate highways. Six are on the 10 busiest routes in the state, all located in Providence County and Providence. The most heavily trafficked of these bridges is I-95 over U.S. Highway 6, which causes commuters major headaches.
The Providence I-95 Viaduct, constructed in 1964, sees a staggering 171,707 crossings daily. But this spring, the Rhode Island Department of Transportation is taking action. They are investing in a comprehensive project to reconstruct 11 bridges on the viaduct. They will also build a new collector-distributor (C-D) roadway that will help eliminate weaving conflicts and congestion on the U.S. Highway 6-State Route 10 Connector.
The state is dedicating $1.8 billion towards bridge repairs, a promising move towards progress. With these improvements, drivers can expect a smoother and safer journey on the roads of Rhode Island.
4. South Dakota
In 2015, the Federal Highway Administration determined 1,066 out of South Dakota’s 5,886 bridges were structurally deficient. Luckily, that figure has since decreased by about 17%, down to 991. While it is still a concerning number, progress is being made.
Four of the 10 deficient and heavily traveled bridges in South Dakota are located near Sioux Falls within Minnehaha County. One of the bridges that particularly stands out is the U.S. Highway 12 crossing Moccasin Creek near Aberdeen in Brown County. This historic bridge was built in 1954. It has since served commuters for more than 50 years, enhancing more than 1,000 daily vehicle crossings.
Another noteworthy bridge in South Dakota is the Pine Street Bridge in Yankton. This bridge is a National Historic Place that receives over 1,000 daily vehicle crossings. It boasts an impressive superstructure condition rating of “fair.” Despite its admirable rating, it was ranked as the most structurally deficient bridge in South Dakota in 2018. It sees 19,377 daily crossings.
According to Bruce Schroeder, an engineer with the South Dakota Department of Transportation, the Highway 12 bridge over Moccasin Creek has “substandard ratings.” It is regularly inspected without any safety risks or load limits. But if South Dakota wants its bridges to remain operational beyond 2026, it will have to foot an immense bill of $534.8 million! Fortunately, steps are being taken to fix the state’s bridges and ensure their longevity.
Pennsylvania has made significant progress in improving its road and highway infrastructure. The state has achieved an impressive 28% decrease in structurally deficient bridges between 2015 and 2019. Numbers dropped from 4,701 to 3,353. While this is a remarkable achievement, there’s still a lot to be done. There are still over 100 subpar infrastructures, with nine located in the Wissinoming section of Philadelphia County alone.
One of the most traveled bridges in need of urgent repair is located near Wissinoming. It crosses Comly Street via I-95. The bridge was built in 1967 and handles 194,917 daily crossings, making it a crucial component of the state’s infrastructure.
Another noteworthy bridge is the Albert Gallatin Memorial Bridge, also known as the Point Marion Bridge. It replaced the ferry on the Monongahela River in 1930. This cantilever truss bridge is an impressive engineering piece on the National Register of Historic Places. It was destroyed in 2009 and replaced.
In March 2020, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) address the critical need for infrastructure improvement. It announced that a massive reconstruction and improvement project for I-95 would commence later that month. The project includes replacing the bridge above Comly Street. PennDOT wrapped up construction on the northbound lanes by fall 2021. Workers will complete repairs on the southbound lanes in 2023.
The necessary bridge repairs in the state come at a hefty price of $12.7 billion. This massive bill emphasizes how crucial it is to remain invested in infrastructure. The state must devise creative ways to finance these undertakings.
Of the 12,853 bridges in Louisiana, 1,634, or 12.7 percent, are classified as structurally deficient. The state needs to take action.
According to Louisiana officials, the backlog of maintenance in the state currently sits at a whopping $15 billion. That’s a vast amount of money, considering the lengthy wish list for new projects, such as the Calcasieu River Bridge. This bridge sees a staggering 86,800 daily crossings.
While Louisiana will receive about $7.5 billion from the infrastructure package, it will still need additional funding. Louisianians need to get creative on ways to fund these projects.
Maine boasts 2,485 bridges, with 315 of them (or 12.6%) classified as structurally deficient. This figure indicates that one or more essential elements have deteriorated and require immediate attention.
The vast majority of these unsafe bridges are throughout Cumberland County. Many other northern and rural areas across the state also suffer from bridge infrastructure needs. One major problem lies in Penobscot County, where only 59 out of 295 bridges are in good condition. Moreover, several counties have alarmingly high percentages of their bridges in poor shape. These counties include Cumberland, with 20% of its structures needing repair; Hancock with 21%; Washington with 23%; and Somerset with a shocking 27% in need of repair.
To repair all these bridges, the Maine Department of Transportation estimates that it would require $48.9 million. Unfortunately, Mainers will be navigating some bumpy rides for years due to the lack of investment in infrastructure.
8. North Dakota
North Dakota has 4,285 bridges collectively used by an estimated 21,500 people daily. Unfortunately, not all bridges in the Peace Garden state are in top condition. Eleven percent of them are classified as structurally deficient. Many of these bridges are historical, like the Sorlie Memorial Bridge between Grand Forks and East Grand Forks. Construction on this bridge finished in 1929. It was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1999.
Weathering floods, like the 1997 Red River of the North flood, often cause significant damage to aging structures. This is among the primary reasons why fixing the bridges has become a top priority for North Dakota citizens. The state estimates it will take $243.6 million to repair all existing bridges with deficiencies.
Hopefully, with this significant investment, more people can safely travel over North Dakota’s bridges with peace of mind as they cross from Minnesota into their beautiful home state.
Did you know that Michigan’s infrastructure needs are far greater than many realize? Of the 11,314 bridges in the state, 1,269 are structurally deficient. This means that critical elements of these structures have fallen into poor or worse conditions, thereby exerting pressure on limited resources and potentially endangering commuters.
The recently passed bipartisan infrastructure bill is a significant first step in helping to address this problem by sending more than $7.3 billion to Michigan for road and bridge repairs. On the other hand, It will not be enough to ensure that the roads and bridges are safe for travel in the coming years.
Lance Binoniemi, the Vice President of Government Affairs at the Michigan Infrastructure and Transportation Association, expressed his excitement at the prospect of significantly increased federal funding for infrastructure projects in the state. Although he is grateful for the extra $1.7 billion allocated by the government, he noted that this amount might not be enough to rid Michigan of its long-standing infrastructure woes.
With Michigan’s highway system facing irreparable damage, the state needs to do more. Change must happen soon if Michigan wants to keep up with the global demand for advanced transportation systems. However, this investment signals hope for the future of Michigan’s roads and bridges, bolstering confidence across the state in its ability to make smart investments on behalf of its citizens.
Oklahoma has approximately 23,680 bridges, but the sad truth is that 9.9% suffer from age and neglect. That means more than 5,200 bridges are classified as structurally deficient and require significant repairs. Surprisingly, half of these bridges were constructed before 1960.
One example that deserves attention is the I-40 over Crooked Oak Creek Bridge, built over six decades ago. With more than 87,300 daily crossings, it’s one of the many deteriorated bridges in dire need of repair. The state’s bridge issues are so widespread that the total cost for necessary repairs could reach 8.2 billion dollars.
Over the years, the state has taken several steps towards addressing this problem by increasing funding for road construction and repair projects all over Oklahoma. They have also emphasized safety improvements, including repairing these vital bridges. Despite all these efforts, however, the state still has a long way to go.
Is there Hope for Travelers Within These 10 States?
Despite the bad conditions of many bridges across the United States, there is still hope for those living in or traveling through these 10 states. At varying paces, all states are tackling their bridge repair needs through well-developed government plans. The Department of Transportation in each state has identified problems and proposed solutions, from accelerated repairs to long-term overhauls.
Different strategies are devised to revive these aging structures and make them as safe and durable as possible. While it may take many years before all 10 of these states’ bridges are entirely fixed, these potential solutions give us hope for the future of transportation in America.
Bridge maintenance can immensely impact a state’s overall infrastructure. Whenever you drive anywhere around these states, staying alert and conscious of potentially hazardous conditions will go a long way.
Summary of The 10 States With The Worst Bridges In America
Here is a summary of the ten states with the worst bridges – ranked by percentage of total bridges in need of repair. The total number of bridges in states varies by a great degree.
The photo featured at the top of this post is © Andy Fogelsonger/Shutterstock.com
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