GAO releases U.S. bridge conditions report
The United States has a total of 610,749 bridges. Twenty-three percent of them are part of the National Highway System (NHS), which makes up 58 percent of the total deck area for the United States. Deck area refers to the width of the surface of the road on the bridge, which is then multiplied by the bridge’s length, totaling the size of the bridge.
For NHS bridges, 4 percent of them are considered structurally deficient. Another 17 percent have been identified as functionally obsolete.
Approximately half of these bridges are under the responsibility of state agencies. More than 90 percent of the NHS bridges are part of state agencies’ ownership.
The review states that approximately 25 percent of all of the nation’s bridges are deficient, 10 percent are considered structurally deficient and another 14 percent are functionally obsolete.
From 2005 to 2014, crews in the United States added more than 15,000 bridges and approximately 400-million square feet of bridge deck area. From 2005 to 2012, another 2,238 NHS bridges were built. In 2012, certain legislative changes in the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act furthered the NHS and clarified some of the classifications of current bridges.
The quantity of deficient bridges continues to rise every year, which is yet another piece of evidence that there needs to be a long-term transportation bill for the United States.