Fairfield County bridges aren't exactly falling down, but if something isn’t done soon, they could.
That's according to “The Fix We’re In For: The State of Our Nation’s Busiest Bridges," a report by the nonprofit advocacy group Transportation For America. The study ranks Fairfield County’s bridges among the faultiest in the United States.
And while this might be old news for some — the report was released last week — it was part of the Connecticut General Assembly's Oct. 26 special session on jobs. Both the Malloy Administration and assembly members said transportation is in serious need of fixing if more companies and people are to come to the Nutmeg State to work.
According to a (D-Conn. 4th), “The report is a stark reminder that we urgently need to invest in refurbishing our crumbling national infrastructure.”
The recently passed jobs legislation includes $50 million for bridge improvements through the "Fix It First" program.
The Tri-State Campaign, another nonprofit transportation advocacy group, said the study showed Connecticut must keep moving toward a “fix it first” approach focused on existing bridges and roads rather than big-ticket road expansion projects such as Route 11 or the widening of I-84.
“Connecticut residents know well how important it is to maintain our bridges,” Ryan Lynch, Connecticut coordinator for the Tri-State Transportation Campaign, said in a statement. “That’s why we’re calling on Governor Malloy and ConnDOT to continue the progress they’ve made towards a ‘fix-it-first’ approach that prioritizes maintenance of roads and bridges, not building new ones.”
According to the Connecticut Department of Transportation, most of the state’s more than 5,200 bridges are at least 50 years old. And most, if not all, will need major work during the next 10 to 20 years. In metropolitan areas with 1 million or fewer people, Fairfield County has the fourth-highest number of drivers traveling over structurally unsound bridges.
The cost to repair will run into the billions of dollars, according to the report. But since drivers travel over a structurally deficient bridge every 16 seconds in Fairfield County, the work must be done.
The state DOT only cares for about 4,000 bridges. Of those, 3,000 are 20 feet are longer; 189 are need of work. Of the 1,000 bridges 20 feet or longer, 119 need work, according to DOT.