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Iowa Among Nation's Worst for Percentage of Bridges on the Brink

PHOTO: Iowa has one of the country's highest percentages of bridges in need of major repair or upgrading, according to a new report that breaks down the numbers state by state. Photo credit: Carl Wycoff/Flickr.
PHOTO: Iowa has one of the country's highest percentages of bridges in need of major repair or upgrading, according to a new report that breaks down the numbers state by state. Photo credit: Carl Wycoff/Flickr.
April 8, 2015

DES MOINES, Iowa - Iowa has one of the highest percentages in the nation of bridges that are in need of major repairs or upgrades, according to a new report.

The analysis was done by the American Road and Transportation Builders Association. Its chief economist, Alison Black, said the group found that more than 20 percent of Iowa's bridges, numbering more than 5,000, are structurally deficient.

"A bridge is classified as structurally deficient," she said, "if one of the key structural elements - and usually that's either the deck, the super-structure or the substructure - is rated in poor condition or worse."

Black said the challenge in Iowa is that, in addition to some of the more highly traveled bridges in urban areas, there is a large number of smaller, local bridges that are considered structurally deficient.

Black said the bridge problem in Iowa and nationwide could get even worse, since the latest extension of federal highway and transit funding through the Highway Trust Fund is set to expire on May 31, absent congressional action.

"This is something that is an issue, funding both at the federal, state and local level," she said. "It's something that all levels of government need to address. But the uncertainly over the federal-aid situation is a big issue for state DOTs (departments of transportation) and local governments."

Nationwide, according to the report, about 61,000 bridges are considered structurally compromised. Many of those are on Interstate highways, which carry the bulk of truck traffic and passenger vehicles.

The report is online at slideshare.net.

John Michaelson, Public News Service - IA