It's a "looming crisis," the group Transportation for America says.
The national transportation alliance released its most recent look at Minnesota's bridges Thursday. The 2015 "The Fix We're in For" report details just how big the problem of structurally deficient bridges is in the state.
The full report (click here to read it), includes a more detailed, county-by-county look. But we pulled out seven surprising numbers to give you a better sense of the overall picture.
In 2014, Minnesota drivers took 628 million trips over deficient bridges. Breaking it down further, that means every minute, there are 1,200 trips over deficient bridges.
Of all the bridges in Lincoln County, 23 percent are considered structurally deficient – the highest percentage in the state. Though the county only has 100 bridges total, 31 were built before 1948. Pipestone County is second, with 19 percent of its 168 bridges structurally deficient; Redwood County is third, at 16 percent of 188 bridges.
In all of the seven-county Twin Cities metro area, there are 92 structurally deficient bridges – just 4.9 percent of the total bridges in the region. In total, the counties have a whopping 1,861 bridges between them. Here's the breakdown.
- Anoka – 140 bridges, 3 deficient
- Carver – 114 bridges, 18 deficient
- Dakota – 235 bridges, 1 deficient
- Hennepin – 858 bridges, 47 deficient
- Ramsey – 311 bridges, 18 deficient
- Scott – 102 bridges, 1 deficient
- Washington – 101 bridges, 4 deficient
In St. Louis County, there are 102 structurally deficient bridges, the most in a county by a wide margin. (Mower County is second, with 52 deficient bridges.) St. Louis County also has the second-most total bridges, at 648. Of those, 112 are at least 66 years old.
Across the state, there are 830 structurally deficient bridges – 6.4 percent of the state’s 12,961 total bridges.
66 years old
Of all the deficient bridges found in the state, the average age of them is 66 years old. That means they were built prior to 1948 – before the creation of Israel, before the first ever broadcast of a color TV production, before the Korean War, and before Medicare was created.
There are four counties in Minnesota with not a single structurally deficient bridge: Wright, Lake of the Woods, Isanti and Big Stone. There are just 182 bridges total between the four however – there are 22 counties in the state that by themselves have more bridges than that.
Who pays for it?
One of the biggest questions, the group says, is who will have to pay to fix these bridges. More than 90 percent of the state's deficient bridges are owned locally – meaning smaller governmental entities that are already strapped for cash have to find a way to pony up some money.
The alternative is to just let the bridges continue deteriorating.