Survey: 481 bridges in Chicago area deficient

October 20, 2011 5:10:18 AM PDT
A new report about the nation's bridges finds 9.4 percent of Chicago-area bridges deficient. That's 481 bridges, with more than 6 million motorists traveling on them daily.

Bridges are rated on scale of zero to nine. Anything below a four is considered deficient. Those bridges often have deteriorating concrete and steel.

On Wednesday, officials and civic leaders urged more funding to repair the nation's bridges.

"There has been a failure to really fund a comprehensive transportation infrastructure legislation," said U.S. Rep Jan Schakowsky, D-IL, during a press conference.

Illinois was the 11th worst in the country, according to the survey of bridge infrastructure and safety.

"The current federal program doesn't provide enough dedicated funding to repair and rebuild critical bridges in need," said Brian Imus, Illinois Public Interest Group.

Last year, civil engineers found 17 percent of Illinois bridges deficient and in need of repair or replacement.

"The more the deficiencies that come up, the sooner those repairs are needed," said Victor Van Santen, American Society of Civil Engineers. "The steel is corroding to a point to which it's considered structurally deficient or some of the deck might need to be repaired, some of the substructure such as columns or piers might need to be repaired."

Repair or replacing bridges would also mean jobs. For those tradesmen and women looking for work, new projects couldn't come soon enough.

"We should have Congress to act to put Americans back to work. In the building trades, the iron workers, the carpenters, the laborers, this is what they do," said Bob Boskovich, Iron Workers District Council.

"We need federal government's support to create jobs for people who have been hit hard by this prolonged economic recession," said Jorge Ramirez, Chicago Federation of Labor.

The bridge repairs nationwide could create thousands of jobs. Legislators hope money from Pres. Obama's jobs bill will be approved for the infrastructure repair and eventually there will be permanent funding with the transportation reauthorization bill.

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