Graphic (bad bridges within 10 miles of San Francisco are in red) via Transportation for America.
Transportation for America knows a very interesting factoid that affects practically everyone. In the United States, deficient bridge structures outnumber McDonald's fast food outlets. Think about that for a minute - are you sure you don't drive, or bike, over a bridge in a U.S. metro area while going about your daily duties? According to Transportation for America, Americans make 210 million trips over structurally deficient bridges every day. I know I do, at least twice each day. And our total bridge trips are three and a half times the number of people who eat at McDonald's every day, worldwide. The question is, of course, why do we have such bad bridges?
Photo of the Hawthorne Bridge in Portland (a 'good' bridge): A. Streeter.
The American Society of Civil Engineers rates U.S. infrastructure overall a "D" and the state of our bridges a "C"- how did things get this bad?
Despite billions of dollars in annual federal, state and local funds directed toward the maintenance of existing bridges, 69,223 bridges - representing more than 11 percent of total highway bridges in the U.S. - are classified as "structurally deficient," according to the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA). - Tranportation for America report
Pennsylvania has the largest share of deteriorating bridges at 26.5 percent, followed by Oklahoma (22.0%), Iowa (21.7%), Rhode Island (21.6%) and South
The amounts needed to fix these bridges is around $70 billion - no small chunk of change.
Scariest of all is the fact that our largest 102 metro areas in the U.S. carry 75 percent of all traffic crossing a deficient bridge each day.
What's inhibiting getting bridges fixed? Money, of course. Congress has said the fixing bridges is a priority (and also a job creation mechanism). However, a new transportation bill has languished for the past two years while short-term extensions are settled for.
Want to see how many bad bridges may be near you? Go here to put your zip code in to Transportation for America's maps. You might be surprised - a bad bridge might be a lot closer to you now than the nearest double-arched fast food restaurant.
Read more about infrastructure:
The Basics of Infrastructure
Obama's $50 Billion Infrastructure Plan a Bad Omen for Future of US Transit
5 Examples of Better Bike Infrastructure
Will Public-Private Partnerships Save Our Crumbling Water Infrastructure?