Nearly 12 percent of Michigan’s 11,022 bridges are structurally deficient, meaning the deck, superstructure, or substructure are in “poor” condition, while 16 percent — or 1,720 — are classified as functionally obsolete, according to a report released Thursday by the American Road & Transportation Builders Association.
The association ranked Michigan 16th nationally in the number of structurally deficient bridges and 17th in the percentage of its bridges that are classified as structurally deficient.
Since 2004, 916 new bridges have been constructed in the state, and 664 bridges have undergone major reconstruction with the state estimating around $6.2 billion to fix a total of 2,076 bridges in Michigan.
Other states in the same range as Michigan include New York, Maine, North Dakota, South Dakota, West Virginia, and New Hampshire.
Alison Premo Black, the chief economist for the association, says that things could get a lot worse as states across the country face a slowdown in reimbursements for already approved federal-aid highway projects in August.
“Letting the Highway Trust Fund investment dry up would have a devastating impact on bridge repairs,” Black says. She says it would set back improvements with the trust fund supporting an average $232.1 million annually in Michigan work.
Black also says there will be no Highway Trust Fund support for any new road, bridge, or public transportation projects in any state during fiscal year 2015, beginning Oct. 1.
“The bridge problems sit squarely on the backs of our elected officials,” Black says. “The state transportation department can’t just wave a magic wand, and make the problem go away. It takes committed investment by our legislature.”
She notes that some of the country’s oldest bridges were built in the 1930s, and most of them are more than 40 years old.
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 in the best condition, according to association officials. If it is rated four or below, it is classified as structurally deficient.
For a complete list of the 10 structurally deficient bridges that carry the most traffic in each state in the country, click here.