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374 Georgia bridges need repair

Christian Fernsby |
Data from the U.S. Department of Transportation National Bridge Inventory (NBI) show that more than 220,000 U.S. bridges need major repair work or should be replaced, the American Road & Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA) says.

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If placed end-to-end, the length of these bridges would stretch over 6,000 miles—long enough to travel across the country from Atlanta to Los Angeles, and continue up to Deadhorse, Alaska the furthest point north on the state's highway system.

As U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg heads to Atlanta today, the problem hits close to home.

In Georgia, cars, trucks and school buses cross the state's 374 structurally deficient bridges more than 650,000 times every day.

ARTBA's analysis, conducted by its chief economist, Dr. Alison Premo Black, finds that while the number of structurally deficient (SD) bridges declined nationally last year to 45,000, the number of bridges falling into fair condition grew more than 3,600 to almost 295,000.

At the current pace, it would take four decades to repair the current backlog of structurally deficient bridges nationally, Black says.

"The current 40-year timeline to repair bridges in poor condition is an unacceptable outcome for the American motoring public," Black said. "Our bridge report highlights key national infrastructure challenges and underscores the need for congressional and presidential action this year on a robust multi-year transportation investment bill."

Bridge decks and support structures are regularly inspected by the state transportation departments for deterioration and are rated on a scale of zero to nine—nine being "excellent" condition. A bridge is classified as structurally deficient and in need of repair if its overall rating is four or below.

While these bridges may not be imminently unsafe, ARTBA believes they should be sign posted so the public knows they have structural deficiencies that need repair.

ARTBA also notes a review of 2019 Federal Highway Administration data finds that freight bottlenecks cost the U.S. economy $42 billion in 2019—a hidden tax on the American people that is only likely to increase in the post-pandemic return to normalcy. Truckers lost 660 million hours of time stuck in traffic.

In Georgia, the economic costs were almost $1.7 billion and nearly 26 million hours of lost time.


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