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Maine Tops New England for Worst Bridges

While the Memorial Bridge was taken out of service in 2011, a new report finds more than 360 bridges in Maine in need of repair or upgrade. Credit: JayDuck Wikipedia Commons.
While the Memorial Bridge was taken out of service in 2011, a new report finds more than 360 bridges in Maine in need of repair or upgrade. Credit: JayDuck Wikipedia Commons.
April 8, 2015

AUGUSTA, Maine - If your morning commute takes you across a bridge in Maine, a new report finds that you could be traveling across a span that is likely to have more structural issues than your neighbors' bridges in other New England states.

Alison Black, chief economist for the American Road and Transportation Builders Association, said 15 percent of the bridges in the state's inventory in Maine are ranked as deficient in the group's new report.

"There are 364 bridges that are classified as structurally deficient," she said. "So, that means either the superstructure, the deck, or the substructure is rated in 'poor' or worse condition."

Nationwide, more than 60,000 bridges are structurally compromised, the report indicated, and many of those connect the most-traveled interstate highways.

Black said Congress faces an end-of-May deadline for funding the Highway Trust Fund, and many states are in a holding pattern waiting on a clear signal about whether federal funds will be forthcoming.

"So, when there is that uncertainty, that certainly impacts the pace of some of this work, as well as getting new projects out the door," Black said. "For many New England states, they are very highly dependent on that federal aid program for their capital investment."

The nation is underfunding road work at all levels, Black said, adding that a big concern is that even as states play catch-up on bridge work, it often comes at the expense of pavement needs in many states.

The report is online at slideshare.net.

Mike Clifford, Public News Service - ME