Digging Deeper: Crumbling infrastructure focus of State of Union - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Digging Deeper: Crumbling infrastructure focus of State of Union

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President Trump plans to address America's crumbling highways and bridges in his first State of the Union address Tuesday night. This comes after a recent report reveals more than 50,000 bridges across the U.S. are falling apart and endangering drivers.

The 'American Road and Transportation Builders Association'  (ARTBA) says more than 50,000 bridges in the country are "structurally deficient," meaning their deck or another part of their structure is in poor condition. The transportation report shows Iowa ranks the worst in the nation when it comes to structurally deficient bridges. 

In Black Hawk County, the bridge along East Bennington Road, which crosses over the Wapsipinicon River is the worst in the county. Officials in the County, were forced to shut the bridge down because of its sinking deck. 

However, Assistant Engineer Ryan Brennan who helps oversee all of the projects, says most bridges in the county are receiving much needed repairs. 

"I would say overall we're doing pretty well as a county," said Brennan. "We're able to keep up and maintain our assets as they are beginning to deteriorate."

The deterioration isn't just within the County.  The ARTBA's recent report, compiled with government data, says nearly 5,000 of Iowa's 24,000 bridges are structurally deficient, meaning their deck or another part of their structure is in poor condition. 

An example of Iowa's worst bridges is the bridge along East Bennington Rd. There are exposed nails, detached rails, and a sinking deck. 

"One of the corners of the main truss is actually lower than the other four corners, and that's causing that structure to have a twist in that main span and that just causes the potential for further damage with vehicle track," said Brennan. 

Brennan says it's a continuous cycle of repairing and replacing the 230 bridges within the county, but doing so is a balancing act.

"We're never going to have every road and every bridge be in perfect condition so just having the funding level and consistently maintain our assets that we have," said Brennan. 

A gas tax increase put into place for the state, was designed to fix the state's road and bridges with the additional revenue. According to a recent report by the Iowa Department of Transportation, bridges only make up eight percent of projects funded from that additional gas tax. 

The ARTBA's states there are more than 15,000 bridges in Iowa that need repair. The state estimates those repairs would cost more than $7 million, which could come from federal funding. 

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