Bridge safety: Federal government tracks unsafe spans

A Pittsburgh bridge collapsed hours before President Joe Biden was scheduled to speak there about his infrastructure bill.

The collapse may have many wondering how safe the bridges that carry millions of cars every day are.

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The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration has a website that tracks the number of bridges and grades their condition as good, fair or poor.

In Allegheny County, where Pittsburgh is located, there are 1,290 bridges, accounting for nearly 1.5 million square meters. The Highway Administration said there were 396 bridges in good condition, 771 in fair and 123 in poor condition. Keep in mind the last study was published in 2021 and the numbers may have changed.

Using the Federal Highway Administration’s data, the American Road & Transportation Builders Association ranks Pennsylvania fifth for the “percentage of structurally deficient bridges.”

The Keystone State has nearly 23,000 bridges and over 3,000 of them are in poor condition, according to federal data.

ARTBA said that the number has decreased since 2016, when Pennsylvania had more than 4,400 structurally deficient bridges.

The work needed varied from full bridge replacement to rehabilitation, to widening, ARTBA said.

The ARTBA said there are more than 45,000 bridges in the country that are in poor condition, using 2020 data.

The state topping ARBTA’s list with the most structurally deficient bridges is West Virginia. The state, or territory, with the least was Nevada.

To see how many bridges in your state and county are in good, fair or poor condition, visit the Federal Highway Administration website.

To see your state’s ranking, visit ARBTA’s website.