The number of Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) structurally deficient bridges is on the rise while state bridge improvements have sharply declined.
Those are the findings of an analysis performed by the Transportation for Illinois Coalition (TFIC) released Oct. 3.
The number of structurally deficient IDOT-owned bridges has increased by 20 percent since 2003, from 552 to 661, according to bridge data from the Federal Highway Administration and IDOT’s For The Record reports. Meanwhile, budget cuts have forced IDOT to reduce state bridge improvements by 48 percent over the last three years compared to the previous three-year period.
In IDOT’s For The Record reports, the number of bridge improvements fell from 256 to just 132. (Fiscal Years 2004 to 2006 compared to 2000 to 2003).
“The Minnesota bridge tragedy this summer reminds us all that our government must ensure safety for travelers in Illinois. While Illinois works hard with the dollars it has to perform bridge repairs and replacements, the needs have begun to dramatically outpace the dollars Illinois is spending for bridges,” said Michael Carrigan, president of the Illinois AFL-CIO and a cochair of TFIC.
“Illinois needs a comprehensive transportation funding plan that includes a meaningful commitment to bridge repair and replacement to ensure the safety of our bridges and the safety of our travelers.”
“The Transportation for Illinois Coalition is calling for a $1 billion increase over five years for bridge repair and replacement in Illinois,” said Doug Whitley, president of the Illinois Chamber of Commerce and cochair of TFIC.
“Included in our proposal is a doubling of the Township Bridge Program to $30 million and the establishment of new county and municipal bridge programs at $30 million annually.”
In Illinois, 8.7 percent of IDOT bridges are structurally deficient according to FHWA Bridge Data, ranking IDOT 31st in the nation when ranking states by the fewest structurally deficient state DOT bridges.
Local governments are also in need of additional funding from the state as 13.2 percent of municipal bridges are classified as structurally deficient — a higher percentage than IDOT’s bridges.
Although counties have fewer structurally deficient bridges than IDOT, county structurally deficient bridges increased by 8 percent since 2003 and 9.9 percent of township bridges are structurally deficient. That also is higher than the percentage of IDOT’s structurally deficient bridges. A contributing factor to the problem is the Township Bridge Program has never been increased for inflation since its inception.
For more information, visit www.TFICIllinois.org.