Analysis: Structurally Deficient Bridges Need to Be Fixed ASAP

The US is home to nearly 59,000 structurally deficient bridges, according to a new analysis report by the American Road and Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA). Among them are the Brooklyn Bridge in New York City; the Memorial Bridge in Washington, D.C.; and the Centennial Bridge in Illinois.

Almost all the 250 most heavily crossed structurally deficient bridges are on urban highways — particularly in California — with nearly 85 percent being built before 1970. Notably, 21 of these most-traveled structurally deficient bridges are in Southern California. These urban SoCal bridges bear the burden of up to 328,000 crossings per day.

“These bridges need to be fixed so they don’t get to a point where they are unsafe for the traveling public,” said Alison Black, ARTBA chief economist who conducted the analysis.

If placed end to end, the deck surface of the nation’s structurally deficient bridges would stretch from New York City to Miami (1,340 miles), says ARTBA. Cars, trucks, school buses and first responders are traveling over them nearly 204 million times a day, so the “structurally deficient” designation has drawn attention.

A bridge is classified as structurally deficient when one of the key elements of the structure receives a “poor” rating, says Black. The key elements are the substructure, the deck and the super structure. Departments of Transportation at the state level are doing everything they can to fix them, she said, but budget constraints hold back their efforts.

Last year, a bridge collapse in Southern California forced the closure of Interstate 10, the main artery between Southern California and Phoenix, stranding hundreds of motorists. The Tex Wash Bridge, built decades ago in 1967, had been listed as functionally obsolete in the 2014 National Bridge Inventory prior to its collapse.


Top Most Traveled Structurally Deficient Bridges in the State

County Year Built Daily Crossings Type of Bridge Location
Orange 1969 328,000 Urban Interstate Interstate 5 over El Toro Road at 12-ORA-5-18.69-LGNH
Los Angeles 1959 296,000 Urban Interstate Interstate 405 over Olympic Blvd at 07-LA-405-30.18-LA
Los Angeles 1960 294,000 Urban Interstate Interstate 405 over Mcdonald Street at 07-LA-405-26.45-CLC
Los Angeles 1963 294,000 Urban Interstate Interstate 405 over Sepulveda Blvd at 07-LA-405-25.46-CLC
Orange 1959 286,000 Urban Interstate Interstate 5 over Aliso Creek at 12-ORA-5-17.75-LGNH
Los Angeles 1957 283,000 Urban Interstate Interstate 405 over Constitution Ave at 07-LA-405-31.90
Los Angeles 1962 274,000 Urban Interstate Interstatee 405 over Sepulveda Blvd at 07-LA-405-38.59-LA
Los Angeles 1960 273,760 Urban Interstate Interstate 110 over Dominguez Channel at 07-LA-110-9.13-LA
Los Angeles 1950 270,000 Urban freeway/expressway State Route 110 over 1st Street at 07-LA-110-23.34-LA
Los Angeles 1948 265,000 Urban freeway/expressway Alvarado St Sep over Route 101 at 07-LA-101-2.86-LA
Los Angeles 1963 253,000 Urban Interstate Route 405 over Woodruff Ave at 07-LA-405-1.64-LBCH
Los Angeles 1960 253,000 Urban Interstate Interstate 110 over Redondo Beach Blvd at 07-LA-110-11.24-LA
Los Angeles 1960 253,000 Urban Interstate Interstate 110 over Gardena Blvd at 07-LA-110-10.49-LA
San Diego 1964 245,000 Urban Interstate Interstate 5 over Carmel Valley Rd at 11-SD-5-R32.90-SD
Los Angeles 1960 243,000 Urban Interstate Interstate 110 over 168th Street at 07-LA-110-10.32-LA
Los Angeles 1960 242,820 Urban Interstate Interstate 110 over Alondra Blvd at 07-LA-110-10.74-LA
Orange 1968 240,000 Urban Interstate Interstate 405 over San Diego Creek Channel at 12-ORA-405-6.41-IRVN
Orange 1962 239,000 Urban freeway/expressway State Route 55 over Santiago Creek at 12-ORA-055-13.42-ORA
Contra Costa 1998 235,000 Urban Interstate Interstate 680 over Monument Boulevard at 04-CC-680-R17.70-PLHL
Sacramento 1971 231,000 Urban freeway/expressway U.S. Highway 50 over 39th Street at 03-SAC-050-R0.85-SAC
Alameda 1956 230,000 Urban Interstate Interstate 880 over Whipple Road at 04-ALA-880-13.67-HAY
Orange 2008 229,000 Urban freeway/expressway State Route 22 over Harbor Blvd at 12-ORA-022-R7.83
Alameda 1951 217,000 Urban Interstate Interstate 880 over UP RR, San Leandro Creek at 04-ALA-880-24.18-SLN
Los Angeles 1956 216,600 Urban Interstate Interstate 10 over Sunset Ave at 07-LA-010-34.85-WCOV
Los Angeles 1975 216,600 Urban Interstate Interstate 10 over W Covina Parkway at 07-LA-010-34.46-WCOV
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