Transportation for America, a coalition of housing, business, public health and transportation organizations, said in its recently released report that 13 percent of our state’s bridges are considered “structurally deficient.” North Carolina ranked 15th among all states in the percentage of bridges needing attention or replacement.
The report indicated that that 11.5 percent, or 69,000, bridges in the U.S. need attention or replacement. It said more federal funding help is “essential.”
“For bridges, lack of maintenance can lead to the sudden closure of a critical transportation link or, far worse, a collapse that results in lost lives and a significant decline in regional economic productivity,” according to the report, which cited federal data and other sources.
Federal spending for bridge repair has severely lagged estimates of needed funding. Federal spending increased by $650 million from 2006 through 2009, compared to the $22.8 billion that the Federal Highway Administration said it needed to fix deficiencies.
The American Society of Civil Engineers, the leading expert on U.S. infrastructure, has said the United States needs to invest $17 billion annually to improve current bridge conditions. According to a 2009 report, the country only spends $10.5 billion each year on bridges.
Severe budget crises in many states have left them unable to take on a greater share of the costs. In North Carolina 2353 bridges out of a total of 18,099 bridges in the state are considered structurally deficent.
“The nation’s bridges are aging and traffic demands are increasing, even as state and local revenues are shrinking,” the report by Transportation for America said.
Currently, Congress is considering long-term legislation to fund transportation projects, and states hope to garner billions in new funding. President Barack Obama wants to put $336 billion into rebuilding roads and bridges over six years, with $70.5 billion for road and bridge repair in 2012.
More than 20 states have a higher percentage of deficient bridges than the national average of 11.5 percent.Read More.