| WASHINGTON, April 24
WASHINGTON, April 24 More than 63,000 bridges
across the United States are in urgent need of repair, with most
of the aging, structurally compromised structures part of the
interstate highway system, an analysis of recent federal data
The report, released on Thursday by the American Road and
Transportation Builders Association, warned that the dangerous
bridges are used some 250 million times a day by trucks, school
buses, passenger cars and other vehicles.
The group, which represents the U.S. transportation
construction market, analyzed recent U.S. Department of
Transportation data for its study.
Pennsylvania led the list of structurally deficient bridges,
with 5,218, followed by Iowa, Oklahoma, Missouri and California.
Nevada, Delaware, Utah, Alaska and Hawaii had the least.
Overall, there are more than 607,000 bridges in the United
States, according to the DOT's Federal Highway Administration,
and most are more than 40 years old.
The Transportation Department routinely inspects bridges and
rates them on a scale of zero to nine. Bridges receiving a grade
of four or below are considered structurally deficient, and now
account for more than 10 percent of all bridges.
States rely heavily on federal funds to pay for road and
bridge projects but could face funding shortfalls by late August
as the federal Highway Trust Fund draws closer to insolvency
without congressional action.
The fund, bankrolled by an 18.4 cents-a-gallon tax on
gasoline and 24.4 cents-a-gallon tax on diesel, is expected to
run out of money by 2015 as fuel use in America stagnates.
"Letting the Highway Trust Fund go insolvent would have a
devastating impact on bridge repairs," said Alison Premo Black,
chief economist at ARTBA.
A temporary measure that provided funding for road and
bridge projects for two years is set to expire in September, and
the transportation industry has urged Congress to act quickly to
keep the funds flowing.
"The bridge problem sits squarely on the backs of our
elected officials," Black said. "The state transportation
departments can't just wave a magic wand and make the problem go
The American Society of Civil Engineers, which separately
produces a report card on U.S. infrastructure every four years,
gave it an overall "D," or poor, grade. Bridges received a "C+"
grade for mediocre.
The U.S. needs to invest $20.5 billion annually to clear the
bridge repair backlog, up from the current $12.8 billion spent
annually, the ACSE has said.
The civil engineers' group estimates that the U.S. will need
to invest $3.6 trillion by 2020 to keep its transportation
infrastructure in a good state of repair.
(Reporting by Elvina Nawaguna; editing by Ros Krasny and Phil