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02 April 2015

New Analysis Says 785 of Georgia's Bridges Need Structural Repair

An analysis of the recently-released 2014 U.S. Department of Transportation (U.S. DOT) National Bridge Inventory database finds good news and bad news when it comes to the most heavily traveled U.S. bridges.

The good news is that there are 50 fewer structurally deficient structures in Georgia than there were in 2013. The bad news is 785 of Georgia's bridges remain in need of structural repair.

The analysis of the federal government data, conducted by American Road & Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA) Chief Economist Dr. Alison Premo Black, shows cars, trucks and school buses cross Georgia's 785 structurally compromised bridges 2.0 million times every day. Not surprisingly, the most heavily traveled are on the Interstate Highway System, which carries the bulk of truck traffic and passenger vehicles.

The top 10 most heavily traveled structurally compromised bridges in the state are:

  • I-285 over South Utoy Creek (Fulton County)
  • I-75 NB over Clark Creek (Cherokee County)
  • I-75 NB over Clark Creek (Cobb County)
  • I-75 SB ramp to I-285 E over Mud Creek (Clayton County)
  • I-85 NB over Transco Gas Lines (Coweta County)
  • I-85 SB over Transco gas lines (Coweta County)
  • I-75 over Pennahatchee Creek (Dooly County)
  • I-20 WB over the Alcovy River (Newton County)
  • I-75 over Bevel Creek (Lowndes County)
  • US-41 SB and SR 49 over Rocky Creek (Bibb County)
Bridge decks and support structures are regularly inspected by the state transportation departments for deterioration and are rated on a scale of zero to nine—nine being "excellent" condition. A bridge is classified as structurally deficient and in need of repair if its overall rating is four or below.

"Without additional investment from all levels of government, our infrastructure spending will be a zero-sum game," Dr. Black said, noting that there is a current backlog of over $115 billion in bridge work and $755 billion in highway projects, according to U.S. DOT data.

"Many of the most heavily traveled bridges are nearly 50 years old. Elected officials can't just sprinkle fairy dust on America's bridge problem and wish it away," Black continued. "It will take committed investment by legislators at all levels of government."

While these bridges may not be imminently unsafe, ARTBA believes that signs should be posted so the public understands they have structural deficiencies that need repair.