DOT database reveals 75,000-plus bridges at or past useful life mark

Sources: American Road & Transportation Builders Association, Washington, D.C.; CP staff

More than 222,000 U.S. bridges need major repair or are structurally deficient and warrant replacement, according to an American Road & Transportation Builders Association analysis of the recently released U.S. Department of Transportation 2023 National Bridge Inventory (NBI) database. Factoring average cost data states submit to the U.S. DOT, ARTBA Chief Economist Dr. Alison Premo Black calculates a $300 billion-plus price tag to address conditions on the most critical NBI crossings.  

State inventories of bridges deemed structurally deficient; overall percentages

Full ARTBA findings on the latest National Bridge Inventory assessment, including state-by-state rankings, are available at

States currently have access to $10.6 billion from the 2021 Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act’s (IIJA) bridge formula funds that could help inventory metrics, with another $15.9 billion to be available in the next three years. As the FY 2023 sunset approaches on September 30, states have committed $3.2 billion, or 30 percent of available bridge formula funds to 2,060 projects, with $7.4 billion still coming. States committing more than two-thirds of their available bridge formula funds are Idaho and Georgia (100 percent), Alabama (97 percent), Arizona (88 percent), Indiana (81.5 percent), Florida (80 percent), Texas (78 percent), and Arkansas (68 percent). Thirty one states that have committed less than 33 percent of their available bridge formula funds as of mid-2023. States have four years to commit such dollars for specific projects, giving them additional flexibility to decide when to make investments.

“The good news is that states are beginning to employ these new resources to address long-overdue bridge needs,” says ARTBA CEO Dave Bauer said. “The better news is that more improvements are on the way.”

“Most bridges are inspected every two years, so it takes time for repairs and rehabilitation efforts to show up in the annual federal data,” adds Dr. Black. “What we know now from other market indicators is that there are more bridge projects in the pipeline.”

The U.S. Postal Service has issued four Presorted First-Class Mail stamps featuring structures completed between 1938 and 2022 (right, clockwise): The multi-span steel through arch Arrigoni Bridge, connecting Middletown and Portland, Conn.; S-curved, cable-stayed Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge between Council Bluffs, Iowa and Omaha, Neb.; steel truss Skydance Bridge topped by a public sculpture in Oklahoma City; and, basket-handle twin arch Interstate 74 Memorial Bridge connecting Bettendorf, Iowa and Moline, Ill. Bridge series stamps are intended for business mail users and sold in self-adhesive coils of 3,000 and 10,000. They require a special permit and minimum quantity of 500 letters. USPS art director Ethel Kessler used existing photos to design the series. 

While their materials and designs have evolved from utilitarian structures to engineering marvels, Postal officials note, bridges remain integral parts of American life, with over 600,000 such structures in the United States. Bridge construction is a way to reinvigorate communities economically as well as create landmarks of regional pride. Many modern bridges are designed for use by cyclists and pedestrians as well as motorists, capturing the imagination of human possibility. Whether simply improving transit or vibrantly lighting the night with color-changing light displays, bridges remain vital connectors drawing together people, cities and the nation.