10 Major U.S. Cities with the Most Deficient Bridges


NEW YORK (MainStreet) -- August 1 marked the fifth anniversary of the I-35W Bridge collapse in Minneapolis, which killed 13 people and injured 145 others. Was it a wakeup call to the government about preventing future bridge disasters?

When the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) issued its report after more than a year of study, it concluded the bridge collapse was a one-time occurrence, caused by a design error undetected during construction. Barry LePatner, creator of a new web site, www.saveourbridges.com, says the 1-35 Bridge collapse was no "one-off" event; in fact, government officials knew for years there were structural flaws.

“Federal and state governments are hiding the true state of disrepair of America’s infrastructure,” said LePatner in a release marking the five-year anniversary of the I-35 disaster. His website's interactive map allows drivers to see if any of the 7,980 U.S. bridges that are both "fracture critical and structurally deficient" are bridges that they drive over.
Transportation for America, a coalition of organizations dedicated to transportation policy, maintains a database of the U.S. cities with the highest percentage of most deficient bridges (based on data updated bi-annually).

According to the organization, nearly 70,000 bridges nationwide are rated “structurally deficient.” The Federal Highway Administration says it will cost over $70 billion to eliminate potentially dangerous bridges.

Check out the interactive map on savingourbridges.com and read on for the 10 largest metropolitan areas (over 2 million people) with the highest percentage of deficient bridges, according to Transportation for America research.

10. New York, NY

The Big Apple is the largest city in America by population and when so many people are moving across the metropolitan area’s bridges each day, it might be reasonable to assume they would be a little worse for the wear. Ranked 10th by the percentage of bridges deficient at 9.8%, it’s estimated that over 17 million people drive over the 778 questionable bridges each day, or 203 drivers each and every second.  

9. Cleveland, Ohio

Possibly best known, at least by music fans, as the home of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum, 213 (11.4%) of its metropolitan bridges aren’t so rock solid. Over 2.4 million people, or 28 drivers per second, hit these bridges on a daily basis.

8. Detroit, Mich.

The Motor City has faced some devastating economic times and the economic problems are showing up in 286 of the areas bridges, or 11.5%. Over 4 million people still drive over these bridges every day, amounting to 49 drivers per second.

7. Boston, Mass.

Beans aren’t the only thing you will find in the capital city of Massachusetts, you will also find that 308 of its metropolitan bridges, or 11.7%, are of questionable structural soundness. Over 7.8 million people drive across these bridges every day, which adds up to 91 drivers per second.

6. Kansas City, Mo.

The Kansas City metro is a large area that spans across several state and county lines, connecting various cities and communities with multiple bridges mainly over the Missouri and Kansas Rivers. With 12.1%, or 617 bridges, in the area counted as deficient, over 2 million people cross these bridges each day, adding up to 24 drivers per second.

5. Riverside, Calif.

California has the most publicized budget problems among states and enough drivers in LA alone to rival the traffic of a small nation, so it stands to reason that many of its bridges are in need of repair. The Riverside area of greater Los Angeles has 296 deficient bridges, or 12.2%. Over 5 million people drive these bridges each day, or 58 drivers per second.

4. Sacramento, Calif.

It’s a little ironic that some of the cities nicknamed for their bridges or bodies of water (Sacramento is known as The River City) have some of the highest percentage of deficient bridges. Over 15% of the California state capital’s metropolitan bridges are structurally deficient. Over 5.1 million people drive over the 211 bridges each day, which translates to 59 drivers per second.

3. Philadelphia, Pa.

The City of Brotherly Love and the home of our nation’s first capital has some pretty old bridges, 20% of which are structurally deficient. Over 9.3 million people drive over the 907 questionable bridges each day, amounting to 108 drivers per second.

2. San Francisco, Calif.

In the city known for the Golden Gate Bridge, it might be safer to take a boat. Over 15.6 million people -- 181 per second -- drive over deficient bridges on any given day. Three hundred and eighty, 20.9%, of San Francisco area bridges are deficient. The San Francisco Oakland Bay Bridge was closed in 2009 due to a tension rod failure that injured one person.

1. Pittsburgh, Pa

Pittsburgh was once known as the “Steel City” and the “City of Bridges,” but now it is known for its other industries, such as technology and healthcare -- and the number of deficient bridges it claims. According to Transportation for America, 30.4% or 1,133 of its bridges are structurally deficient. Over 4.9 million people drive on these bridges every day, which translates into 57 drivers per second.

--By Kerri Fivecoat-Campbell

Show Comments

Back to Top