Iowa Bridges Structurally Deficient - ABC5 News Des Moines, IA

Iowa Bridges Structurally Deficient

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by Phil Prazan


They're the bridges you may drive on every single day and you'd be amazed to see the list they've landed on.

Iowa has the third worst bridges in the country.  That's the word from a new report out Wednesday from a transportation lobby group.

One of the bridges in this report was the Grand Ave. bridge at 63rd street in Des Moines.  The good news is this one is under construction and getting fixed.

The bad news is this report says there's more than 5,000 other Iowa bridges that also need a facelift.

According to a report by Transportation For America, around 20 percent of Iowa bridges have a part of them that can't handle the legal weight limit it was intended for.

Many of the bridges in downtown Des Moines fall into this category. And like so many things, it comes down to money.

Polk County Bridge repair gets funded by the gas tax, registration fees, property taxes and State and Federal money.

But a couple hundred thousand dollars in federal money doesn't put a dent in the cost when the average bridge replacement is between $600,000-800,000.
"We have several bridges we have designed and ready to build.  But the funding just isn't there.  So we use the funds we have to get the worst bridges done first.  Overall you just start losing ground and it's going to take a lot of years to catch up," says Kurt Bailey the Polk County Engineer.

The average weight Iowa bridges can handle is 80,000 lbs., so there's not really a threat to car or pickup traffic right now.

But as these bridges deteriorate, that legal limit gets lower and lower. So one wrong turn by a truck that's too heavy could be very dangerous.

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