The state of America’s bridges and steps to bring them to capacity
Among more than 617,000 bridges connecting people and places across the nation, 42 percent have reached the 50-year threshold, with more than 46,000 bridges classified as structurally deficient that average 178 million crossings per day.
The 2021 Report Card for America’s Infrastructure by the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) cites challenges and opportunities to improve the state of bridges across America, which received an overall grade of ‘C’ in the latest study.
Even though the overall number of deficient bridges has declined in recent years, the fact remains that they continue to deteriorate at rates exceeding rates of repair or replacement. To address this challenge, we applaud the increasing number of states shifting away from “scrap and start over” bridge replacement in favor of more sustainable approaches to improve and maintain existing bridges.
Greater opportunities for sustainable bridge management come with innovations incorporating advanced materials and technologies enabling greater strength and durability, as well as precise monitoring of structural conditions to inform engineering decisions.
As material-science advances like high-performance aggregates, alloys and coatings bring new life to old bridges, innovative assessment methods such as embedded sensors, infrared thermography, ground-penetrating radar, and drone surveillance allow us to pinpoint preventative maintenance and improvement priorities to extend bridge life for greater safety and resilience.