Apr 9, 2021 - News
Iowa bridges rank among worst in U.S.
Chart: Axios visuals; numbers via NBI, data compiled by ARTBA

Iowa is among the worst in the nation for percentage of bridges that are in poor condition, according to a 2021 report by The American Road & Transportation Builders Association.

Why it matters: Deteriorating bridge conditions can hamper travel or result in load restrictions. Dangerous bridges have to shut down altogether.

By the numbers: Out of 23,982 bridges in the state, 19% are in poor or worse condition, according to federal inspection reports.

  • When it comes to overall number of bridges in poor condition, Iowa ranks #1 in the nation, with 4,571 needing repair or replacement. (But keep in mind — Iowa has a lot of bridges.)

What they're saying: We have a "tremendous" number of small bridges in rural areas that are classified as poor, said Andrea Henry, spokesperson for the Iowa DOT.

  • Due to funding constraints, Henry said the Iowa DOT prioritizes its bridge repairs based on maintaining optimal mobility in the state.

In Polk County, the most traveled structurally deficient bridge is 2nd Avenue over Birdland Avenue, according to ARTBA.

State of play: President Biden has proposed a $2 trillion+ infrastructure plan that includes $155 billion for repairing roads and bridges.

  • The plan's fate is unknown as Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has vowed to fight against the plan "every step of the way."

This story first appeared in the Axios Des Moines newsletter, designed to help readers get smarter, faster on the most consequential news unfolding in their own backyard.


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