Counties maintain over 3,400 bridges, equating to more than 50 percent of the bridges in Oregon. These bridges provide vital links for Oregonians, communities and goods. Recent analysis by the Association of Oregon Counties (AOC) indicates 249 county bridges in this state are structurally deficient, which is more than seven percent of the bridges maintained by counties.
A recent report by the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) revealed a significant need for investment in bridge maintenance and repair after 61 state bridges were identified as structurally deficient. Bridges owned by ODOT, cities and counties are critical to the integrated statewide transportation system and must be properly maintained.
Deterioration of Oregon’s bridges will ultimately lead to closure or replacement. The most cost effective way to protect our investment in infrastructure is repeated maintenance to prevent small issues from becoming larger failures. While Oregon’s counties continue to prioritize the repair and maintenance of roads and bridges, insufficient revenues have made it impossible to meet the outstanding need. At this point, one in every 14 county bridges is structurally deficient. Without additional funding, this situation will only get worse.
AOC’s 2014 Road Needs Study indicated counties require an additional $505 million in annual funding to keep up with maintenance, preservation and capital needs. County bridges represent one of the largest shares of this unmet funding need with a $105 million annual deficit for bridge replacement, repair and construction.
“Failure to adequately fund county bridges in Oregon will result in costly detours for businesses trucking goods to market and employees commuting to work. We must act soon to prevent these significant economic burdens on our already struggling rural economies,” noted Emily Ackland, County Road Program Manager.
The data used for this analysis only includes bridges over 20 feet long. While smaller bridges may be cheaper to repair, they are no less crucial for the connectivity of our communities and cannot be ignored.
Daniel Hauser, Association of Oregon Counties Road Program
Eric Schmidt, Association of Oregon Counties