Apr 18, 2024 - Transit

12% of Louisiana bridges are in poor condition

Share of bridges in poor condition, 2023
Data: Federal Highway Administration; Map: Will Chase and Kavya Beheraj/Axios

Louisiana has almost twice as many bridges in poor condition as the national average, federal numbers show.

Why it matters: While the bridge collapse in Baltimore was due to a series of unlikely accidents rather than crumbling infrastructure, the incident has put renewed focus on the vulnerability of bridges across the U.S.

The big picture: 12.2% of Louisiana bridges are in poor condition compared with 6.8% nationally, according to the Department of Transportation.

  • Nationally, that's over 40,000 bridges total.
Photo shows the Calcasieu River Bridge in Lake Charles.
The Calcasieu River Bridge is shown in Lake Charles on July 14, 2021. Photo: Mark Felix for The Washington Post via Getty Images

State of play: Louisiana has more than 12,700 bridges, and 3,149 need repairs, according to the American Road & Transportation Builders Association.

Zoom in: Nine bridges in New Orleans metro are closed because they failed inspections, according to DOTD and Fox 8.

  • The Seabrook Bridge closed last month due to structural damage, DOTD said, and should be repaired by late this summer.
  • Six bridges are closed in Venetian Isles and along the West Pearl River and its tributaries. DOTD says most won't reopen until at least 2028.

Meanwhile, the Port of New Orleans says it has "layered safety measures" to keep the Crescent City Connection safe from damage from ships, writes Axios' Chelsea Brasted.

Zoom out: Nationally, bridge conditions have improved over the past two decades, according to the Department of Transportation data.

  • The percentage of bridges in poor condition has been halved from 15.2% in 2000 to 6.8% now.

What to watch: The bipartisan infrastructure law sets aside $40 billion to further repair and rebuild the nation's bridges but that investment will take years to go from ink to concrete.

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