OGDEN — Dangerous bridges are an epidemic throughout much of the U.S., but Top of Utah seems to be bucking the trend, according to a new report.
A new website, saveourbridges.com, has released an interactive map showing every structurally deficient bridge across the country. According to the report, 7,980 of the 600,000 bridges in the U.S. are structurally deficient and fracture critical, meaning that if one component of the bridge fails, it is at risk of toppling completely.
More than 300 bridges are in the Ogden-Clearfield Metropolitan Area, which consists of Davis, Weber and Morgan counties, but only two bridges in the area, and one just outside of it, are included on the list.
The report was put out to coincide with the five-year anniversary of the Interstate 35 bridge collapse in Minnesota that killed 13 people and injured 145 others. The data from the report was compiled from public documents issued by the Federal Highway Administration.
Barry LePatner, a construction lawyer from New York and creator of the website, said America’s bridge problem is bad and getting worse because bridges usually aren’t seen as a priority.
“States aren’t required to spend the federal funds they’re given on bridge repairs,” he said. “Politicians use funds to build new projects that lead to ribbon-cutting ceremonies, publicity and votes. Bridge repairs just aren’t sexy enough.”
Only one of the local bridges on the list withstands a significant amount of daily traffic: the Interstate 84 bridge over the Weber River and the Union Pacific Railroad in Uintah. An average of 6,941 cars a day cross the bridge, built in 1965.
The bridge that spans the Bear River at 5600 North in Box Elder County is also on the list. Only 20 cars a day cross the bridge, built in 1945.
The last area bridge on the list is just outside of the Top of Utah but crosses the Weber River at the Old Lincoln Highway in Summit County. An average of 400 cars a day cross the bridge, built in 1925.
Utah as a whole has 11 bridges on the list. Only Arizona, New Mexico, Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina have fewer poor bridges.
Utah Department of Transportation’s Josh Sletten, design manager for the state’s structures division, said state-maintained bridges are typically inspected every two years and bridge maintenance is a high priority for the state.
“A lot of our infrastructure is newer, so that helps with the condition of a lot of our bridges,” he said. “But a lot of our bridges are on the I-15 corridor between Provo and Ogden, and we’ve been able to do a lot of work there in the past few years.”