Study: 1 in 9 U.S. bridges is 'structurally deficient'

Study: 1 in 9 U.S. bridges is 'structurally deficient'

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Chances are you either drive under or over a bridge on your way into work. A new study discovered that one in nine bridges across the U.S. are considered structurally deficient.

What does that mean for drivers here in Atlanta, and where does Georgia rank in this national study?

The big picture is that 42 inspectors are charged with watching over 15,000 bridges throughout the Peach State. It's a tall task and one that inspectors say they take very seriously.

Bridge maintenance engineers with the Georgia Department of Transportation are a busy group with such a massive responsibility. They make sure that in every aspect the bridges you and I use every day are structurally sound; that each bridge's particular height and weight restrictions are adhered to.

In one instance, it didn't take the group long to locate a pothole on the edge of one Georgia bridge. It's one of the important problems that they keep a constant watch for.

"We would never put [drivers] on a bridge that was unsafe for them to go over."

But, a new report released by Transportation for America shows 11 percent of U.S. bridges are considered structurally deficient. TFA is a United States policy organization primarily focused on building grassroots support for -- and enacting -- federal, state, and local government laws that support progressive transportation and land use policy," according to Wikipedia.

The words "structurally deficient" can not only sound scary, but may also be pretty alarming if you don't know exactly what it means. It doesn't mean the bridge is dangerous, but that it requires extra attention, repairs or needs to be replaced.

It most cases, it's the age and the increased traffic on a bridge that can cause problems. The height and weight the bridge was originally built for at one time is now being exceeded by current use.

Georgia ranks 7th best in the U.S. when it comes to having structurally sound bridges.

"We are proud of our bridges. Does that mean we have zero percent structurally deficient? No, we have six percent; but we're working our way to zero."

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