Hundreds of bridge repair and replacement projects will launch soon
It is shocking to realize that more than 42% of America’s 617,000 bridges are more than half a century old, and one-third of them are in dire need of repair or replacement. Even more sobering is the fact that 46,000 U.S. bridges are considered structurally deficient or in poor condition, given that 178 million trips are made on them daily.
Even though the government spends more than $14 billion annually on bridge construction and repair, the latest engineering study reports that $135 billion is closer to what is needed currently to address the infrastructure issue. When Congress passed the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill, approximately $35 billion in funding was made available. Although this amount is insufficient, it is evident that thousands of bridge projects will be launched in the next several years.
The I-83 South Bridge in Pennsylvania is nearing the end of its useful life, and the replacement cost is estimated to be approximately $1.1 billion. The state’s Department of Transportation will oversee a construction project to replace the 64-year-old structure in 2026. An environmental assessment has already been completed.
The South Bridge connects downtown Harrisburg to Cumberland County across the Susquehanna River. About 125,000 vehicles traverse it daily. The new bridge will be wider with additional lanes and wider shoulders to accommodate future traffic growth. The state project will also reconfigure two surrounding interchanges and replace the South 3rd Street Bridge in Lemoyne as another part of this project.
The Alabama Department of Transportation (ALDOT) will oversee the construction of a flyover bridge in Tuscaloosa at a cost of $89 million. The bridge project will be designed to allow vehicles to pass over Highway 69 and Skyland Boulevard in both directions without having to stop at a light. Approximately 56,000 vehicles use the roadway daily. City crews are currently carrying out utility work to prepare the area and construction is planned to begin this summer.
The city of Stuart, Florida, will partner with Brightline’s high-speed passenger rail service to replace the aging Florida East Coast Railway Bridge. The project was awarded $130.5 million in a Mega Grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation and a $26 million match from the Florida Department of Transportation. The entire project carries a cost projection of $218 million.
The existing bridge, which crosses over the St. Lucie River, is almost 100 years old, and it requires drawbridge arms to be lifted for boats to pass underneath. The new bridge will address safety and efficiency issues and deliver a new, double-tracked bridge with plenty of clearance for ships to easily pass underneath. The design phase will begin soon, and construction is slated for 2025.
As one of several projects to prepare the city of Long Beach, California, for the Los Angeles 2028 Olympic games, city officials will rebuild the aging Shoemaker Bridge across the Los Angeles River. The existing bridge was built in 1953 and has a high traffic incident rate. The proposed design of a new bridge outlines a four-lane, cable-stayed bridge that will withstand seismic activity, rising sea levels and other climate-related concerns. A final design for the replacement project should be completed this spring. Long Beach officials plan for construction to break ground in 2025 so the project can be completed before the July 2028 Olympics in Los Angeles.
City leaders in Glenwood Springs. Colorado will soon launch a bridge project that carries a projected cost of approximately $75 million. The city was awarded a $50 million grant from the US Department of Transportation. The new bridge will provide an additional access point across the Roaring Fork River and the project. The project will also include a tunnel, which will be constructed under the south end of the Glenwood Springs Municipal Airport runway. In case of the future need for an emergency evacuation route, this additional bridge will serve as a safety measure for people trying to leave the area.
City council members in Austin, Texas recently approved a bridge project to completely replace the old Barton Springs Road Bridge, a 97-year-old structure. With approval secured, the project’s design phase is underway, and construction bidding is planned for 2025. The project’s final cost has been projected to be between $37 million and $43 million.
The old bridge can no longer handle the current number of motorists transversing it daily. While the estimated traffic is 20,000 vehicles a day, that number is increasing rapidly. The current bridge lacks adequate bike lanes and space for pedestrians and no longer meets ADA accessibility standards.
The replacement structure will offer a three-span bridge supported by transverse Y-piers. The new bridge will have multi-use pedestrian and bike paths on the upper deck and trails will be constructed beneath the bridge.
Bridge projects are large and complex infrastructure initiatives. Most involve support and/or oversight from a state’s department of transportation and regional officials. The critical need for repair and replacement, along with currently available funding, ensures that many of these large initiatives will be launched over the next several years.