Inspectors: Thousands of American Bridges in Poor Condition

Following the collapse of Baltimore’s Francis Scott Key Bridge after a collision involving a cargo ship, safety inspectors are now raising the alarm about the structural dangers of a significant percentage of American bridges.

As Fox News reports, federal data from the year 2023 suggests that at least 7% of bridges in the United States – roughly 42,400 total – are in poor condition. The primary cause is deterioration over time, which requires regular repairs that can regularly cost millions of dollars, as well as cause closures that negatively impact many residents’ commutes.

The National Bridge Inventory says that the bridges that are in danger are suffering from either their legs (the substructure) or their arms (the superstructure) being in poor condition; the legs hold up the bridges themselves, while the arms hold up their loads.

Notably, the number of bridges in poor condition has decreased by about 22% over the previous decade, with 16,000 bridges being rated poor 10 years ago but no longer being declared so today.

Although a portion of the 2021 infrastructure bill included funding for the improvement of bridges, it only funds bridge repairs to the tune of $40 billion; the American Road and Transportation Builders Association estimates that at least $319 billion would be needed to conduct all of the necessary repairs on every affected bridge.

Bridges in the United States have come under greater scrutiny following the incident in Baltimore on March 26th, where the Singaporean cargo ship Dali collided with one of the bridge’s central support beams in the early morning hours, allegedly after losing power on the ship and drifting in the water towards the bridge. The collapse resulted in six deaths, and a massive cleanup operation, as well as an investigation into the reasons for the crash, are currently underway.

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About Eric Lendrum

Eric Lendrum graduated from the University of California, Santa Barbara, where he was the Secretary of the College Republicans and the founding chairman of the school’s Young Americans for Freedom chapter. He has interned for Young America’s Foundation, the Heritage Foundation, and the White House, and has worked for numerous campaigns including the 2018 re-election of Congressman Devin Nunes (CA-22). He is currently a co-host of The Right Take podcast.

Photo: TOPSHOT - The steel frame of the Francis Scott Key Bridge sits on top of a container ship after the bridge collapsed, Baltimore, Maryland, on March 26, 2024. The bridge collapsed early March 26 after being struck by the Singapore-flagged Dali container ship, sending multiple vehicles and people plunging into the frigid harbor below. There was no immediate confirmation of the cause of the disaster, but Baltimore's Police Commissioner Richard Worley said there was "no indication" of terrorism. (Photo by ROBERTO SCHMIDT / AFP) (Photo by ROBERTO SCHMIDT/AFP via Getty Images)