Almost a quarter of the bridges in Peoria County are rated as in poor condition by the federal government, more than triple the national average. Four of them are over 100 years old.
Bridges in Tazewell County are twice as likely to be rated poor, and Woodford County also exceeds the national average.
Overall, more than 45,000 bridges across America have deteriorated to such an extent that the Federal Highway Administration listed them in poor condition in last year’s National Bridge Inventory. But help is on the way, with $ 40 billion allocated to repair and replace bridges out of the $ 1.2 trillion in infrastructure spending President Joe Biden signed into law on November 15.
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The 45,000 bridges in poor condition represent 7% of all bridges in the United States, according to an analysis of USA TODAY inventory data. This is better than in 2010, when around 11% of bridges were classified as “structurally deficient”, an older term which, according to a spokesperson for the highway administration, corresponds to the “bad” state of. ‘today.
Here’s a closer look at that data.
Problematic region, problematic point
The south-central Midwest is a particularly sensitive point when it comes to the condition of the bridges. Iowa has the most bridges classified in poor condition of any state, with 4,571. Indeed, Iowa and the neighboring states of Illinois and Missouri, as well as Pennsylvania and Oklahoma, make up one-third of all “poor” bridges in the United States.
As a state, Illinois has 2,374 bridges in poor condition. Its proportion of bridges in poor condition, 8.5%, is slightly higher than the national average.
Illinois is also home to the US county with the most poor condition of bridges. Cook County, including Chicago, has 234, or nearly 11% of the county’s bridges.
But the Tri-County region is in a worse state in percentage terms. Peoria, Tazewell and Woodford counties all exceed this ratio. Cook County, with a population nearly 30 times that of Peoria County, has less than three times the number of bridges in poor condition.
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Among the decaying Tri-County spans was the Murray Baker Bridge carrying Interstate 74 over the Illinois River, built in 1958; and the Cedar Street Bridge over the river, built in 1932. The McClugage Eastbound Bridge over the river, built in 1948, was also rated poor; and its westbound counterpart, built in 1982. (The Murray Baker Bridge has since been rehabilitated and the eastbound McClugage Bridge is being replaced.)
Related: Murray Baker Bridge, new lights and all, set to reopen this weekend
In Peoria County, 83 bridges – 23.4% – are listed in poor condition. The oldest is the Old Charter Oak Road Bridge over a branch of Big Hollow Creek. Built in 1900, it is one of the four hundred-year-old listed bridges. Fourteen other poor bridges are at least 75 years old. Twenty-five others are at least 50 years old.
In Tazewell County, 56 bridges – 15.6% – are in poor condition. The oldest is the Candlewood Lane stone arch bridge over Farm Creek, built in the 19th century. Also called the Cemetery Road Bridge, the Washington Span built in 1894 was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1998. Eight other poor bridges are over 75 years old. Thirty-six others are over 50 years old.
In Woodford County, 26 bridges – 11.8% – are in poor condition. Two poor bridges are over 75 years old. Seven others are over 50 years old.
By the numbers
Here’s a breakdown of the tri-county area bridges, by state. The good is the best; poor is worse.
- Good: 84 (23.7%)
- Fair: 187 (52.8%)
- Poor: 83 (23.4%)
- Good: 91 (25.4%)
- Fair: 211 (58.9%)
- Poor: 56 (15.6%)
- Good: 53 (24.2%)
- Fair: 140 (63.9%)
- Poor: 26 (11.8%)
USA TODAY contributed to this story.