Report: Bridge and road repair backlog growing

6:50 PM, Feb 28, 2014   |    comments
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St. Petersburg, Florida -- A 400-plus page report out by the U.S. Department of Transportation says the nation's backlog of bridges and roads in need of repair is growing. The concern: another disaster like what happened in Washington and Minnesota.

The report says there's a record-setting $86 billion backlog of transportation repair projects.

"It's a termite in the basement problem. It's literally year-after-year of slow, steady deterioration in our infrastructure and maintenance," U.S. Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx said of the problem.

The DOT estimates the U.S. needs to spend at least $124 billion a year to keep roads and bridges in good condition. But in 2010 for example, all levels of government combined to spend just $100 billion, $24 billion short.

Foxx says President Obama is pushing for increased spending but getting support in Congress can be an uphill road.

"It's not going to happen just because Washington divines it, it's going to happen because the people of America demand to have a 21st century transportation system."

Locally, there are nine bridges listed as structurally deficient including the Pinellas Bayway, a bridge over Big Bend Road and one over Leonard Lee Road.

Even the area's busiest bridge, the Howard Frankland, is showing signs of wear, which is why FDOT officials want it replaced within the next 10 to 15 years.

Yet, Kris Carson with the Florida DOT says all the construction you see when driving around is an indication roads in Sunshine State are still a top priority.

"Last year we had a transportation budget of $8.6 billion a record at that time, this year it's even bigger at $8.8 billion. Gov. Scott recognizes when you improve the infrastructure you attract businesses and you keep things moving for people," Carson said.

Carson notes when a bridge is listed a structurally deficient it's still safe but officials want it repaired or replaced within 6 years.

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