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Structurally Deficient Bridges In Washington & The U.S.

Updated on: 10/17/2019

Millions of Americans rely on over 600,000 bridges to get to and from work, school, appointments, and other activities each day. Unfortunately, a sizable portion of these structures are not up to code, putting everyone at risk. 

When a bridge collapses or breaks, many individuals can be seriously injured or killed. Not only is the threat to people great, but things such as commute times and deliveries can be problematic for extended periods of time. Diverting traffic from one bridge only puts more pressure on another.

Bridges collapse because they’re either old or not properly maintained. Many were designed to last only for a certain period, while others get more traffic than originally planned for. Repairing bridges is a costly endeavor, and to repair all the nation’s deficient bridges would cost taxpayers hundreds of billions of dollars. However, a failure to repair bridges could lead to an increased risk of serious auto accidents in Washington state.

2017 Washington State Bridge Statistics

The following are statistics provided by the American Road & Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA):

  • Of the 8,233 bridges in Washington State, 399, or 4.8 percent, are classified as structurally deficient. This means one or more of the key bridge elements, such as the deck, superstructure or substructure, is in “poor” or worse condition.
  • Washington ranks 42nd in the country based on percentage (4.8) of structurally deficient bridges. Rhode Island is No. 1 at 23.3 percent of its bridges.
  • 46 structurally deficient bridges in the state are on the Interstate Highway System.
  • The most recent data from the Washington State Department of Transportation shows that 866 bridges, or about 10 percent, are classified as “functionally obsolete.” This means the bridge does not meet design standards in line with current practice.
  • 283 bridges are posted for load, which may restrict the size and weight of vehicles crossing the structure.
  • Federal funds provided 34 percent of annual capital outlays for highway & bridge projects in Washington State. That’s tied for second-lowest in the country, trailing only New Jersey (28 percent).
  • Since 2008, 701 new bridges have been constructed in the state; 125 have undergone major reconstruction.
  • Washington State has identified needed repairs on 4,979, which the state estimates will cost $28.1 billion.
  • 9 of the 10 most traveled structurally deficient bridges in Washington State are in King County, led by the Interstate 90 bridge – the Homer M. Hadley Memorial Bridge. Built in 1989, the pontoon floating bridge over Lake Washington gets 66,500 daily crossings. Click image at right to expand table

2017 Bridge Statistics In The United States

  • There are 174 million daily crossings on nearly 54,259 structurally deficient bridges in the United States. About 1,800 of those bridges are on the Interstate Highway System and are crossed 60 million times daily.
  • As of 2018, one in 11 (8.8 percent) of bridges were designated structurally deficient, which represents an improvement from a decade ago when 12.3 percent of bridges were structurally deficient.
  • One in three (226,837) bridges have identified repair needs. One in three (17,726) Interstate highway bridges have identified repair needs.
  • Most bridges are designed to last 50 years before requiring major changes or replacement. On average, “structurally deficient bridges” are 67 years old.
  • Iowa (5,067), Pennsylvania (4,173), Oklahoma (3,234), Missouri (3,086), Illinois (2,303), Nebraska (2,258), Kansas (2,115), Mississippi (2,008), North Carolina (1,854) and New York (1,834) have the most structurally deficient bridges. The District of Columbia (8), Nevada (31), Delaware (39), Hawaii (66) and Utah (87) have the least.
  • If placed end-to-end, the structurally deficient bridges would stretch 1,216 miles, or about the distance between Miami and New York City.
  • At the current pace of repair or replacement of the nation’s structurally deficient bridges, it would take 37 years to remedy all of them.

Consulting With An Attorney After A Bridge Collapse

Knowledge is power, and those who have a better understanding of what impacts the odds of being involved in a bridge accident are therefore better prepared to protect themselves from serious injury as a result.

If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident due to a bridge collapse and are unsure of your legal options, it may be beneficial to consult with a lawyer about your case. Davis Law Group, P.S., works on a contingency fee basis, meaning there is no obligation for simply discussing your case with our legal team.

Let our personal injury lawyers help you get your life back on track and recover the fair level of compensation that you deserve. Call our office today at (206) 727-4000 or contact us online with the form on this page.

Chris Davis
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Chris Davis is the founder of Davis Law Group, P.S. in Seattle, WA.
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