The threat of King Kong and Godzilla joining forces to thrash American cities may be little to none. However, America’s infrastructure is under attack by a more timid, yet persistent foe: time.
It is estimated that one in every nine bridges in the U.S. are classified as “structurally deficient.” Although this classification doesn’t mean these bridges are going to collapse come the next gentle breeze, they are in significant need of maintenance, rehabilitation or replacement. The Transportation Reauthorization Act, a bill that can provide additional funds to help solve this precarious problem, is slowly trickling through the notoriously deadlocked 112th Congress. It seems appropriate to quote the famous Schoolhouse Rock song, “I’m just a bill, yes I’m only a bill, and I’m sitting here on Capitol Hill.” Unfortunately, this bill has been sitting on the legislature’s steps for more than two years waiting for its acceptance.
As would be expected, structurally deficient metropolitan bridges in densely populated areas carry the most traffic, which in turn can lead to more severe consequences. According to a recent report released by Transportation for America, 75 percent of all passengers that cross deficient bridges are located in metropolitan areas. Reading about places with highly deteriorated bridges made us wonder if these places had high transportation costs as well. Here’s what we found:
Top of the list in number of deficient bridges is the metropolitan area of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Unfortunately, this “City of Bridges” isn’t living up to its namesake, with more than 30 percent of the bridges in the region classified as “structurally deficient.”
Even with the Transportation Reauthorization Act’s slow crawl toward approval, drivers may be seeing more roads and bridges under repair as state agencies struggle to keep crucial infrastructure safe and operational. Let’s see how much a typical family that traverses these bridges frequently can expect to spend on transportation costs per month.
Residents in Mt. Oliver, Pennsylvania, a suburb of Pittsburgh, can expect to pay around $668/month on transportation. Why pay more money to travel by driving if you’re going to be delayed by road repairs? To reduce transportation costs, travelers can utilize the PAT mass transit system. With over 800 buses and five miles of light rail, it covers a rather extensive area of the region. Pittsburgh also has a strong biking community, with numerous bike paths that stem from the Three Rivers Heritage Trail along the riverside.
Tulsa, Oklahoma, is another city that has recently been highlighted in the recent report for the poor condition of their bridges. Tulsa ranked highest among the metropolitan areas with a population of 500,000 to 1 million, with 27.5 percent of its bridges rated deficient. In the metro area, an estimated 3,809,427 cars travel across structurally deficient bridges every day. Bridges in the entire state of Oklahoma have consistently been known for their poor conditions in the past. On average, Tulsa replaces about two bridges a year using state and federal funding that fluctuates around $450,000. The Transportation Reauthorization Act could provide the resources for more robust repair work.
Let’s take a look at what residents in Parkview, a suburb of Tulsa, can expect to pay in transportation costs per month.
Even with some of the cheapest gas prices in the nation, transportation costs are comparatively high in this part of the city. Less concentrated public transportation and relatively long travel distances make these costs higher. To reduce some of the costs associated with travel, residents in this area can utilize two Tulsa Transit System bus lines that go directly into the city. Although walking may be out of the question for some longer trips, a warm climate allows bikers to pedal on for much of the year.
Be on the lookout for road and bridge repairs in your upcoming travels. They may be slowing your smooth cruise, but they’re a necessary component to keeping you safe on the road. During periods of road repairs, you can consider trying new methods of getting around to lower your transportation costs. Are you in an area with a high number of structurally deficient bridges? How do you plan to manage upcoming repairs and delays?