Key Bridge, 14th St. bridge among 215 D.C. area spans rated structurally deficient
By Ashley Halsey III, Wash Post
Two hundred fifteen bridges in the Washington region are structurally deficient, including three of the five major bridges that cross the Potomac River into Washington, according to a report released Wednesday.
The group Transportation for America said the Key Bridge, the Memorial Bridge and the 14th Street bridge all need immediate repair. More than 215,000 vehicles cross them on an average day. The 14th Street bridge is scheduled to undergo a complete overhaul in the next four years.
The local bridges were among 70,000 nationwide that were rated structurally deficient by federal, state and local agencies. That means they need substantial repairs or replacement.
“If a bridge is unsafe, it is closed,” said Cathy St. Denis of the Federal Highway Administration. “There’s a common misconception that a structurally deficient bridge is about to fall down. It’s not.”
Transportation for America, a coalition of groups focused on national transportation policy, compiled its report from 2009 FHWA data, the most recent available.
|Key Bridge into Virginia from Georgetown, DC|
The FHWA says that bridges are considered structurally deficient if significant load-carrying elements need repair. Rating a bridge deficient does not imply that it is likely to collapse or that it is unsafe, but that it might need closer monitoring or more frequent inspections.
The report says the average age of a bridge in Virginia was 41 years and that 1,267 of them, or 9.4 percent, were structurally deficient. Charlottesville, Fredericksburg and Rappahannock County had the most deficiencies.
In Maryland, the average bridge was 43 years old and 359 were deficient, or 6.9 percent. The worst bridges were in Caroline, Garrett and Cecil counties; Montgomery and Anne Arundel counties had the best bridges in the state.
The District had the region’s oldest bridges, with an average age of 57 years, and 30 of them were in structural trouble, 12.3 percent of the total.