More than 222,000 U.S. bridges need major repair work or should be replaced, according to the American Road & Transportation Builders Association’s (ARTBA) analysis of the recently released U.S. Department of Transportation (U.S. DOT) 2023 National Bridge Inventory (NBI) database. That figure represents 36% of all U.S. structures.
If placed end-to-end, these bridges would stretch over 6,100 miles and take more than 110 hours to cross at an average speed of 55-miles-per-hour, according to ARTBA Chief Economist Dr. Alison Premo Black, who conducted the analysis. Based on average cost data submitted by states to U.S. DOT, Black calculates it would cost over $319 billion to make all needed repairs.
States currently have access to $10.6 billion from the 2021 federal Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act’s (IIJA) bridge formula funds that could help make needed repairs, with another $15.9 billion to be available in the next three years.
As the end of FY 2023 approaches on Sept. 30, states have committed $3.2 billion, or 30 percent of available bridge formula funds to 2,060 different bridge projects, with $7.4 billion still coming.
Eight states committed more than two-thirds of their available bridge formula funds: Idaho (100%), Georgia (100%), Alabama (97%), Arizona (88%), Indiana (81.5%), Florida (80%), Texas (78%),and Arkansas (68%).
“The good news is that states are beginning to employ these new resources to address long-overdue bridge needs,” ARTBA President and CEO Dave Bauer said. “The better news is that more improvements are on the way.”
“Most bridges are inspected every two years, so it takes time for repairs and rehabilitation efforts to show up in the annual federal data,” said Black. “What we do know now from other market indicators is that there are more bridge projects in the pipeline.”
Among other findings in ARTBA’s analysis:
- The number of bridges in poor condition declined by 560 compared to 2022. At the current pace, it would take 75 years to repair them all.
- Over the last five years, the share of bridges in fair condition continues to grow. In 2023, nearly half of all U.S. bridges (48.9%) were in fair condition.
- There are 31 states that have committed less than 33% of their available bridge formula funds as of June 30.
- States have four years to commit formula bridge program funds for specific projects, giving them additional flexibility to decide when to make investments.
The full findings, including state-by-state rankings, are available at: www.artbabridgereport.org.