A CLOSER LOOK: 2,500+ Arkansas bridges need repair; $2.3 billion estimated cost

A Closer Look

There are nearly 13,000 bridges in the Natural State

I-40 bridge crack (ARDOT photo).

ARKANSAS (KNWA/KFTA) — Two weeks ago, information about a damaged section of a bridge between Tennessee and Arkansas raised a red flag about overall bridge safety in Arkansas.

The Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) reported a crack in a 900-foot steel beam on the I-40 bridge, near Memphis. The beam gives stability for the section [of the bridge] that connects Arkansas and Tennessee over the Mississippi River. TDOT closed the bridge on May 11, 2021, and the repair is expected to take several months.

In Lawrence County on Tuesday afternoon, May 25, the Ravenden River Bridge on Highways 63 and 412 failed a safety inspection. It was closed immediately when inspectors discovered a broken hanger pin and another hangar pin that needed to be replaced, according to the Arkansas Department of Transportation (ArDOT).

Ravenden’s Fire Chief said traffic in the area coming from Memphis and Jonesboro was rerouted. ArDOT was on the scene.

ARKANSAS BRIDGES

Data from the American Road & Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA)

  • 12,946 bridges are in Arkansas.
  • 663 (5.1%), are classified as structurally deficient. This means one of the key elements is in poor or worse condition.
  • 596 bridges were classified as structurally deficient in 2016.
  • The deck area of structurally deficient bridges accounts for 4.9% of the total deck area on all structures.
  • 19 of the structurally deficient bridges are on the Interstate Highway System.
  • 90% of the structurally deficient bridges are not on the National Highway System, which includes the Interstate and other key roads linking major airports, ports, rail, and truck terminals.
  • 1,497 bridges are posted for load, which may restrict the size and weight of vehicles crossing the structure.
  • 2,570 bridges need repair at an estimated cost of $2.3 billion.
  • 2,730 bridges needed work in 2016.

ARTBA BRIDGE REPORT, NATIONAL DATA

  • 618,000 bridges in the U.S.
  • 171.5 million daily crossings on more than 45,000 structurally deficient U.S. bridges.
  • 4 out of 10 U.S. bridges need to be replaced or repaired, this includes 1 in 3 interstate bridges.
  • The length of the 220,000 bridges in need of repair would stretch over 6,000 miles.
  • 17,643 Interstate highway bridges (nearly 1/3) have identified repair needs.

Nationally, the cost to repair or replace the 45,000 structurally deficient bridges, and considered to be in poor or worse condition, would be nearly $42 billion, based on average price data from the U.S. Department of Transportation.

Of the structurally deficient bridges, nearly 11,200 are in serious or worse condition. This number includes 1,668 that are in critical condition, 440 are in imminent failure and 970 are in failed condition and are out of service.

STATES WITH THE MOST SERIOUS OR WORSE BRIDGE CONDITIONS

  • Iowa (1,762 bridges)
  • Oklahoma (922)
  • Illinois (764)
  • Pennsylvania (728)
  • Missouri (700)
  • Louisiana (638)

(ARTBA 2021 REPORT, USED WITH PERMISSION)

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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