A new report finds that only a quarter of bridges in Massachusetts are in good condition, with hundreds in desperate need of repairs.
The report, released by the Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center Tuesday, says that there are 644 structurally deficient bridges in the Commonwealth, in addition to 218 that are listed as being in "unknown" condition by the state's Department of Transportation. The report cites a state-maintained database of nearly 8,000 bridges in Massachusetts.
The average resident of the Bay State lives 1.7 miles from a bridge labeled structurally deficient, the report found, with things like climate change, heavier vehicles and aging infrastructure only predicted to increase challenges in the future.
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Researchers say that there are a few factors that make bridges in Massachusetts vulnerable to falling into a state of disrepair. The state's harsh, New England winters are hard on them. Between the contraction of roads due to temperatures, and the salt placed on the roadways, winter weather is believed to accelerate the aging of transportation infrastructure like bridges.
Additionally, bridges in the state are pretty old. The average bridge was built, or most recently reconstructed, 56 years ago, the report said. The average age for structurally deficient bridges is 73 years old.
The study advocates for significant public investment as a remedy to the bridge concerns, and warns that without funding, bridges in the state will only get worse.