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Wednesday, March 30, 2011
Alice Fiman, WSDOT Communications 360-705-7080 (Olympia)
Jugesh Kapur, WSDOT State Bridge Engineer 360-705-7207 (Olympia)
OLYMPIA – Washington state’s bridge maintenance and preservation program ranked high in a report released today by Transportation for America, a broad coalition of organizations promoting national transportation reform.
Washington is fifth highest in the overall condition of the state’s bridges, ranked 46 out of 51 when compared to the 50 states and District of Columbia.
“In contrast to most states, Washington has committed to structurally sound bridges and ensured that funds intended for maintenance are not siphoned off for new projects,” noted Transportation for America’s report, “The Fix We’re In For: The State of our Bridges.”
“I’m proud of our bridge program and the smart investment decisions we’ve made to keep these critical economic and travel corridors open,” said Paula Hammond, Washington transportation secretary. “But like other states, we’re struggling to fund our backlog of preservation needs. We need continued federal funding so we don’t lose momentum and risk these lifeline bridges becoming unavailable for commerce or during emergencies.”
Close to 70 million drivers travel Washington’s 7,700 bridges each day and the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) is responsible for nearly 3,250 of these critical transportation links.
The Transportation for America report notes only 5.1 percent of bridges statewide are rated “structurally deficient” according to 2010 government standards, compared to 11.5 percent nationwide. Structurally deficient bridges require significant maintenance, rehabilitation or replacement.
As these structures continue to age, their preservation needs continue to increase.
“We need close to $1 billion over the next 10 years to preserve Washington’s bridge system,” said Jugesh Kapur, WSDOT state bridge engineer. “When we delay these preservation and maintenance projects, more of our bridges will fall below federal standards and could be at risk. Delay also means the structures deteriorate quicker and the fixes become significantly more expensive.”
WSDOT inspects its bridges every two years, with a few exceptions. Some bridges with structural issues and older bridges are inspected more frequently. For example, the Alaskan Way Viaduct is inspected four times a year, including in-depth inspections every six months.
WSDOT keeps people, businesses and the economy moving by operating and improving the state's transportation systems. To learn more about what we're doing, go to www.wsdot.wa.gov/news
for pictures, videos, news and blogs. Real time traffic information is available at www.wsdot.wa.gov/traffic or by dialing 5-1-1.
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