Tens of thousands of bridges in the United States need major repair or replacement, and maintenance backlogs are growing amid tight federal and state budgets, according to a report released on Wednesday.
Transportation for America, a coalition of housing, business, public health and transportation organizations, said in its report that 11.5 percent, or 69,000, bridges need attention or replacement. It said more federal funding help is "essential."
Federal spending for bridge repair has severely lagged estimates of needed funding. Federal spending increased by $650 million from 2006 through 2009, compared to the $22.8 billion that the Federal Highway Administration said it needed to fix deficiencies.
The American Society of Civil Engineers, the leading expert on U.S. infrastructure, has said the United States needs to invest $17 billion annually to improve current bridge conditions. According to a 2009 report, the country only spends $10.5 billion each year on bridges.
Currently, Congress is considering long-term legislation to fund transportation projects, and states hope to garner billions in new funding. President Barack Obama wants to put $336 billion into rebuilding roads and bridges over six years, with $70.5 billion for road and bridge repair in 2012.
More than 20 states have a higher percentage of deficient bridges than the national average of 11.5 percent.