The good news: Only 2 percent of Florida bridges are structurally deficient — making ours the state with the lowest percentage of problem bridges of all 50 states.
The bad news: Two of the ten most heavily traveled stressed bridges in the state are in Broward County — the one on Sunrise Boulevard over the Middle River, just east of the Gateway plaza and west of George English Park, and another on Broward Boulevard going over the north fork of the New River.
An expert with the American Road & Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA) — Chief Economist Dr. Alison Premo Black — looked at 2014 data from the U.S. Department of Transportation and found that nationally, 61,000 bridges are structurally deficient, meaning they rated less than a four on a scale of zero to nine during a state inspection. In total, Florida has 243 such bridges.
Black said in a news release, "Many of the most heavily traveled bridges are nearly 50 years old. Elected officials can't just sprinkle fairy dust on America's bridge problem and wish it away. It will take committed investment by legislators at all levels of government." She added that there is a current backlog of more than $115 billion in bridge work.
Of course, her organization represents the groups that build bridges — so it's beneficial for her to point out that bridges need work.
We reached out to Tom Reynolds, a structures maintenance engineer with the Florida Department of Transportation.
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He said that both of the problem bridges are "being replaced as we speak" and that there's "absolutely not" a problem with funding bridge repairs.
"Florida funds bridges when they reach this sufficiency rating below 50 -— then the Federal Highway Administration steps in to help with funding," he said. "Florida funds bridges that are structurally deficient and functionally obsolete within six years."
He did not know the age of the bridges but said bridges are generally designed to last 75 years.
"We inspect bridges every two years," he said. "There is nothing to worry about."