Filed Under: U.S.

What’s behind Iowa’s crumbling bridges?

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Iowa’s bridges are bad – and many are crumbling. The Hawkeye state has the seventh most bridges in the nation but has more structurally deficient bridges than any other state. The bridges rated in “poor” condition sit at more than 2.5 times the national average.

James Nelson, the Bridges and Structures Bureau director at Iowa’s Department of Transportation says it’s not as bad as it sounds.

“…a ‘poor’ bridge is not an unsafe bridge. A poor bridge just means there’s something on it that we would like to repair.” Nelson said.

Of Iowa’s 23,799 bridges, 4,599 are rated “poor” and 1,800 are deemed “intolerable.” Another 300 bridges in the state are shut down due to safety concerns. The numbers are grim but are they clear signs of mismanagement or is there more to the story?

Iowa DOT Bridge Maintenance and Inspection Engineer Scott Neubauer says the numbers aren’t lying, they are just being read incorrectly.

“One thing you have to know about these bridges out there on the local roads is we have over 100,000 miles of roadway out there and the traffic on those roads is very low,” he said.

In this multi-part series, Straight Arrow News is going to talk to state experts about the challenges they’re facing with Iowa’s broken bridges, and if the new $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill passed by Congress will have a big enough impact.

MAHMOUD BENNETT: IOWA’S BRIDGES ARE BAD – AND MANY ARE CRUMBLING. THE HAWKEYE STATE HAS THE SEVENTH MOST BRIDGES IN THE NATION, BUT TOPS THE LIST AS HAVING THE MOST THAT ARE STRUCTURALLY DEFICIENT.

 THE BRIDGES RATED IN POOR CONDITION SIT AT MORE THAN 2.5 TIMES THE NATIONAL AVERAGE.

JAMES NELSON | DIRECTOR BRIDGES AND STRUCTURES BUREAU, IOWA DOT: “IT’S IMPORTANT TO NOTE THAT A POOR BRIDGE IS NOT AN UNSAFE BRIDGE, A POOR BRIDGE JUST MEANS THERE’S SOMETHING ON IT THAT WE WOULD LIKE TO REPAIR.”

IOWA HAS A TOTAL OF 23,799 BRIDGES. OF THEM 4,599 ARE RATED “POOR” AND 1,800 ARE DEEMED “INTOLERABLE”  ANOTHER 300 BRIDGES IN THE STATE ARE MARKED SO UNSAFE, THEY’RE CURRENTLY CLOSED.

THE NUMBERS ARE GRIM BUT ARE THEY CLEAR SIGNS OF MISMANAGEMENT OR IS THERE MORE TO THE STORY?

SCOTT NEUBAUER | BRIDGE MAINTENANCE AND INSPECTION ENGINEER, IOWA DOT: “ONE THING YOU HAVE TO KNOW ABOUT THESE BRIDGES OUT THERE ON THE LOCAL ROADS IS WE HAVE OVER 100,000 MILES OF ROADWAY OUT THERE AND THE TRAFFIC ON THOSE ROADS IS VERY LOW.”

IN THIS MULTI-PART SERIES, WE’RE GOING TO TALK TO STATE EXPERTS ABOUT THE CHALLENGES THEY’RE FACING WITH IOWA’S BROKEN BRIDGES. 

AND IF THE NEW $1.2 TRILLION INFRASTRUCTURE BILL, PASSED BY CONGRESS, WILL HAVE A BIG ENOUGH IMPACT.

SCOTT NEUBAUER | BRIDGE MAINTENANCE AND INSPECTION ENGINEER, IOWA DOT: “YOU CAN THROW ALL THE MONEY YOU WANT AT IT BUT IF YOU DON’T HAVE THE PEOPLE TO DO THE WORK IT DOESN’T DO ANY GOOD”

 

Iowa’s bridges are bad – and many are crumbling. The Hawkeye state has the seventh most bridges in the nation but has more structurally deficient bridges than any other state. The bridges rated in “poor” condition sit at more than 2.5 times the national average.

James Nelson, the Bridges and Structures Bureau director at Iowa’s Department of Transportation says it’s not as bad as it sounds.

“…a ‘poor’ bridge is not an unsafe bridge. A poor bridge just means there’s something on it that we would like to repair.” Nelson said.

Of Iowa’s 23,799 bridges, 4,599 are rated “poor” and 1,800 are deemed “intolerable.” Another 300 bridges in the state are shut down due to safety concerns. The numbers are grim but are they clear signs of mismanagement or is there more to the story?

Iowa DOT Bridge Maintenance and Inspection Engineer Scott Neubauer says the numbers aren’t lying, they are just being read incorrectly.

“One thing you have to know about these bridges out there on the local roads is we have over 100,000 miles of roadway out there and the traffic on those roads is very low,” he said.

In this multi-part series, Straight Arrow News is going to talk to state experts about the challenges they’re facing with Iowa’s broken bridges, and if the new $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill passed by Congress will have a big enough impact.


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