The Building Tradesman Newspaper

Friday, April 08, 2011

Report finds (surprise!) state’s bridges in bad shape

By The Building Tradesman



A March 30 report by Transportation for America (TFA) analyzes the sorry state of America’s bridges, and finds Michigan’s spans among the sorriest.

“Our country is facing a backlog of deficient bridges that need repairs and maintenance to stay open and safe, with needs far greater than what we’re currently spending,” the group said. “If you’ve been paying attention to stories about our infrastructure at any time in the last few years, it won’t come as a surprise to you that our transportation infrastructure isn’t in the best shape.”

The Transportation for America study ranked Michigan No. 13 among the states in bridge quality – and that means 13th worst.

The group calls itself a coalition of housing, business, environmental, public health, transportation, equitable development groups. Their report hardly breaks new ground: at least once a year road builders, civil engineers or other coalitions release reports outlining the state of the states’ roads and bridges. Michigan has been near the bottom among the states in nearly every report – interstate truckers placed our highways among the bottom among the states two years ago.

In Michigan the TFA found:

  • One out of every eight bridges that motorists in Michigan cross each day have some degree of deterioration. The group found 13.1 percent of Michigan’s bridges are rated “structurally deficient” according to federal standards, compared to 11.5 percent nationwide.
  • As of 2010, Michigan had 10,928 highway bridges: 4,402 of them owned by the state; 6,447 owned by local counties, cities and towns; and 79 owned by other entities, such as private businesses and federal agencies. Of those 10,928 bridges, 1,437 are structurally deficient,
  • During much of her administration, Gov. Granholm pursued a policy of repairing existing roads and bridges, rather than building new. This report reflects that philosophy: it found Michigan spent $48 million or 5.9 percent of all federal funds on new capacity. The U.S. average is 30 percent.

According to the Federal Highway Administration, 69,223 bridges – representing more than 11 percent of all bridges in the U.S. – are deemed “structurally deficient.” Using 2009 numbers, the administration says some $70.9 million is needed to make repairs, and the backlog is lengthening, or course, as bridges age.

  • One out of every eight bridges that motorists in Michigan cross each day have some degree of deterioration. The group found 13.1 percent of Michigan’s bridges are rated “structurally deficient” according to federal standards, compared to 11.5 percent nationwide.
  • As of 2010, Michigan had 10,928 highway bridges: 4,402 of them owned by the state; 6,447 owned by local counties, cities and towns; and 79 owned by other entities, such as private businesses and federal agencies. Of those 10,928 bridges, 1,437 are structurally deficient,
  • During much of her administration, Gov. Granholm pursued a policy of repairing existing roads and bridges, rather than building new. This report reflects that philosophy: it found Michigan spent $48 million or 5.9 percent of all federal funds on new capacity. The U.S. average is 30 percent.
According to the Federal Highway Administration, 69,223 bridges – representing more than 11 percent of all bridges in the U.S. – are deemed “structurally deficient.” Using 2009 numbers, the administration says some $70.9 million is needed to make repairs, and the backlog is lengthening, or course, as bridges age.