The horrifying pedestrian bridge collapse in Miami last Thursday, killing six people and injuring nine others, has been a national wake up call that bridge safety is not to be taken lightly. Unfortunately, last week’s tragedy has also brought to light the fact that many states have had thousands of known structurally deficient bridges for years and New York is no exception.
The Worst NYC and LI Bridges
Every four years, the American Society of Civil Engineers releases an Infrastructure Report Card rating state and local bridges all over the country based on their safety and structural integrity. In 2017, New York bridges received the overall rating of D+, below the national average of a C+. The National Bridge Inventory shows a total of 2265 bridges in New York under the category of structurally deficient, with 681 located throughout New York City and 16 on Long Island.
In another report released by the American Road & Transportation Builders Association (ARIBA), New York City alone was home to 22 bridges on a list of the 25 Most-Traveled Structurally Deficient Bridges in the state, and Long Island made the list with one:
Bridge on Rte 907C over Mill Basin
Bridge on Rte I278 over 6th Avenue, Gowanus Cana
Bridge on Rte 907C over Gerritsen Inlet
The Kosciuszko Bridge (since demolished)
Bridge on Rte 907C over Ocean Avenue
Bridge on Rte 907C over Sheepshead Bay Rd
Bridge on Rte I278 over Rte I278, Cadman Plaza E
Bridge on Rte 278 over Rte I278, 278I 278Ix2MR1
Bridge on Rte I278 over Flushing Avenue
Bridge on Rte I95 over Rte 907F
Bridge on Rte I95 over Rte I895, Reloc Bronx Ri
Bridge on Rte 907H over Morris Park Ave, NYC Rap
Bridge on Rte 907H over E Tremont Avenue
Bridge on Rte 907H over Rte 907F, 907F X(WB)
Bridge on Rte 907H over Amtrak/CSXT/P&W
Bridge on Rte I678 over Flushing Creek, Meadow L
Bridge on Rte I678 over North Conduit Ave
Bridge on Rte 907A over Totten Ave
The Throgs Neck Bridge
Bridge on Rte 907 over East River Shore
The Brooklyn Bridge
Bridge on Rte 907V over Amtrak-W Side Con
Bridge on Rte 908M over East Meadow Brook (Nassau County)
Why Are NY Bridges So Bad
New York City architecture and infrastructure has increasingly become a mix of historic and modern designs, but most of the bridges in the city and metro areas are nearing the end of their lifespan. Bridges categorized as non-deficient were built around 27-years ago according to the ARIBA report, while over 50% of New York bridges range from 75 to 100-years-old.
Though almost all of the bridges across New York are waiting for repairs, fixing a bridge is no easy fret. Some of the bridges are crossed over 165,000 times a day; the bottleneck created due to construction could cost the trucking industry an estimated $60 million in delays! The amount of funds needed to redirect traffic and create detours, combined with the money required to pay for the bridge restoration itself, are significant reasons for why officials have held off on bridge repairs in the past, allowing for the number of structural concerns to increase.
What Are Structurally Deficient Bridges
There are an estimated 54,259 bridges across the United States considered to be structurally deficient- that’s 1 out of every 10 bridges. When a bridge is identified as structurally deficient, this doesn’t necessarily mean they are in danger of collapsing, but they do require attention to safety concerns. These concerns could range from cracks, wear, damage, and other issues that could lead to the future failure of a bridge if not addressed.
According to the National Bridge Inventory Database, bridges are rated on the conditions of various parts:
- Decks: the supporting surface of the bridge
- Superstructure: the structural element of the bridge that supports the bridge deck (beams, concrete, frame, cables, etc.)
- Substructure: the bridge’s foundation (abutments and piers)
If the bridge is deemed structurally deficient after inspection of these parts, safety restrictions may be placed such as weight limits, lane restrictions, or complete closures if emergency repairs are required.
It’s Time For Change
As these monstrous structures around New York City continue to deteriorate, safety activists and residents awestruck from last weeks events in Miami believe it’s time for a change. The chaos that new bridges and major bridge repairs would cause is nothing compared to the devastation that could occur from the collapse of a bridge, nor is it worth putting the lives of our residents at risk.