1 in 4 U.S. Bridges Is Deficient in Some Way, Report Finds

Congress announces surface transportation reauthorization bill that will provide $305 billion in guaranteed funding

Good, but not good enough. That's the assessment announced Tuesday by U.S. Government Accountability Office about the state of the country's bridges and highways.

NBC Bay Area's Investigative Unit exposed hundreds of local bridges that are in desperate need of repair. The GAO's report found some improvement in the repair and conditions of local roads and bridges. It also shows a lot more work needs to be done.

The Bay Area's nearly 4,000 bridges carry millions of cars every day. The Unit's investigation back in April of this year discovered that 472 of them were rated by expert engineers as "structurally deficient," meaning some part of the bridge's core structure needs repair or complete replacement.

The GAO's report issued Tuesday says there has been some improvement nationwide. The number of deficient bridges has decreased and some problematic bridges have been fixed, but the report shows there is still a problem.

Of the 611,000 bridges in the system, 14 percent remain functionally obsolete, according to the report. Ten percent are structurally deficient. That's nearly a quarter of all bridges nationwide that are deficient in some way.

The Investigative Unit looked closer at the data and found, of California's 25,000 bridges, 17 percent are functionally obsolete and 10 percent are structurally deficient.

A local congressman is pushing for emergency funding to fix Bay Area bridges just a week after the NBC Bay Area Investigative Unit exposed hundreds of local bridges in disrepair. Senior Investigative Reporter Stephen Stock reports in a story that first aired May 6, 2015.

In the Bay Area, the number of structurally deficient bridges dropped from 472 to 405, but of the 4,000 bridges in the nine county area, 21 percent remain functionally obsolete and 10 percent remain structurally deficient.

So what's Congress doing about this? Tuesday, for the first time in nearly 10 years, Democratic and Republican leaders from both the Senate and the House of Representatives announced an agreement on a five-year fully paid for surface transportation reauthorization bill. That's $305 billion in guaranteed funding until 2020 to pay for upkeep and improvements of roads, bridges and passenger rail.

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