IOWA — Rural infrastructure is declining and Iowa leads the nation in poor bridges.
The American Road and Transportation Builders Association released an analysis of the U.S. Department of Transportation’s 2018 National Bridge Inventory database, looking at the bridges in the U.S.
Iowa is number 1 in “structurally deficient” bridges with 4,675, which is 19.4 percent of the state’s bridges.
Iowa makes up 10 percent of the nations estimated 47,000 deficient bridges.
To find out what bridges are or are not good, three main parts of the bridge are looked at: the deck, substructure, and superstructure. Only one has to be deemed deficient to be called “structurally deficient.” For this study, on a scale from zero to nine, a bridge had to be rated four or lower to get the rating.
However, the report highlights the nation has made progress in addressing bridge challenges. In Iowa a fuel tax was passed a couple years ago to fund infrastructure and incremental changes have been made.
Mike Steenhoek with the Soy Transportation Coalition says there is a lot of work left to do, “And so there needs to be some attention in the foreseeable future. What it can often result in is a bridge will be load restricted, or posted, sometimes closed altogether.”
He suggests rural communities should take a closer look at their local bridges to makes sure the know they allowable weight limit.
But ultimately, Steenhoek says the nation’s agriculture is impacted by bridge deterioration, “That mode of transportation, getting product from farm to the original delivery location, rural bridges are very integral to that. The fact we have such a problem when it comes to our rural bridge inventory is a source of concern for farmers.”