Home / US / Biden has plans to fix America’s crumbling bridges. It might not be big enough

Biden has plans to fix America’s crumbling bridges. It might not be big enough

The backlog includes the Route 1011 Bridge in Greene County, Pennsylvania. The bridge, built 70 years ago, runs through South Fork Tenmile Creek in the state’s southwest. The bridge’s structure was so worn out that weight restrictions were imposed on it.

The SR 1011 bridge in Greene County, PA has undergone many repairs over the years and is still undergoing significant deterioration.Pennsylvania Department of Transportation

Across Pennsylvania, there are more than 2,000 poorly shaped rural bridges. Alexis Campbell, press secretary for the state Department of Transportation, said in an email that Pennsylvania had $ 9.3 billion in unmet demand.

“These bridges are not safe. “We have more than 25,400 state bridges, the third highest in the country.”


Visible deterioration on the bridge SR 1011.Pennsylvania Department of Transportation

Many bridges in Pennsylvania also need to be modernized to meet post-industrial needs. That was the case with the Karns Crossing Bridge in Butler County, 12 large bridges that run over a number of railroads. Since it was built in 1937, it doesn’t meet the current height requirement that calls for 23 feet, which would allow a double-decker train under the bridge.

“Because federal investment has not increased significantly, we are forced to redirect more state money from regional projects to the interstate network,” Campbell wrote.

She said the cost to build the Karns Crossing Bridge was estimated at $ 44 million.

For some communities, these bridges could be just one mile junction, a harsh situation in Mississippi in 2018 when the state had to close more than 500 bridges because of their aging, shattered supports, or cracked concrete. The closure leaves residents struggling to find alternative routes.

Several of the country’s bridges were built after President Dwight Eisenhower initiated the interstate highway system by signing the Federal-Aid Highway Act in 1956.

“What we have seen is that the trend of poorly classified bridges has slowly subsided. But at the same time, the number of bridges in good condition across the street has also decreased, ”said Alison Black, senior vice president and chief economist of the American Road and Transportation Builders Association, which represents the construction industry.

“So we got this bubble in the middle of the bridge that was in fair condition,” she added. But they may be doing some minor repairs where they will need a lot of investment to restore the bridge. There must be a systematic investment. “

These investments are hugely necessary in Iowa, where the state has over 4,400 smaller rural bridges. “Lack of structure” means that the bridge has been lost, advanced or degraded. Bridges in that condition are often closed to traffic when they are critical.

“Usually a poor bridge has an estimated remaining life of less than 10 years,” said Mark Nahra, president of the Iowa County Association of Engineers. He is a Woodbury County engineer and has worked on Iowa Bridge since 1984.

Nahra said many rural bridges are 50 to 60 years old and many have weight restrictions and structural defects. He said the current bridge has a 50-year design, while the new bridge, built with lacquered steel and without exposed timber components, is expected to remain in good condition for 75 to 100 years.

“Our older bridges were usually 16 to 24 feet wide. The newer bridges we are building are 30 feet wide to mainly accommodate the agricultural equipment that is going down the road today,” he said.

According to the latest information, Iowa has more than 300 bridges that are in a state of failure, meaning they are closed. At most in the country

“The need for bridge maintenance and bridge replacements to keep all bridges in good or fair condition exceeds available funds,” said Andrea Henry, Director of Strategic Communications for the Department of Transportation at the Department of Transportation. Iowa said.

“Iowa passed a fuel tax hike in 2015 that was used to increase investment in Iowa’s transportation system and also to repair and replace bad bridges,” Henry said.

The federal dollar will be a much-needed contributor to state and local budgets, which have been hit economically due to the outbreak, experts said.

“We don’t know how the Biden’s plan will work, whether it is discretionary or not, and what part of it will be a formula fund. There are many unknowns. But, of course, any level of additional investment is welcome, I think it will help with some problems, ”says the American Road and Transportation Builders Association Black.

“When we were asked which bridges were eligible for the Biden executive plan, it was very challenging,” she said. “I always tell people that local bridges are important to that community, maybe not the Brooklyn Bridge. But for that area it is important “

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