America’s Bridge Safety Surprise: They’re Getting Better

For the last 20 years, America’s bridge infrastructure, once regarded as dysfunctional, has been steadily improving. This trend is significant as the percentage of bridges rated poor, or using an equivalent metric, by the federal government’s bridge inventory, has declined from 15% in 2000 to 6.8% in 2023.

According to Axios, more than 1,200 bridges across the U.S. have been rated in poor condition for more than 5 years, according to the federal government’s national inventory.

  • Over half of those 1,200 bridges have been rated “poor” for more than 10 years.
  • The longer a bridge sits in poor condition without repairs, the more it risks falling into serious or critical condition, where collapse becomes a risk.

The big picture: In 2023, the U.S. recorded 42,000 bridges in poor condition — 6.8% of all bridges in the country.

  • The Department of Transportation estimates it would cost over $276 billion to repair all of these bridges.
  • But if we focus on only the most neglected bridges — those in poor condition for more than 5 years — the cost of repairs falls to $4.6 billion.

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