Every day in Connecticut, 12 million drivers hit the road.
However, the very thing that makes a trip around the state possible are bridges, but many in the state are in serious need of repair.
Don Shubert, of the Connecticut Construction Industry Association, said he has seen the problems with bridges firsthand.
“Over the years, the problem has suffered from a lack of attention. Transportation is invisible unless something really bad happens,” Shubert said.
According to state Department of Transportation records, there are 446 bridges that are considered structurally deficient, which is one out of every nine in the state.
The concrete is week, the steel beams are rusted, and the asphalt is decaying, and drivers travel across those bridges every day.
DOT Commissioner Jim Redeker is one of the people tasked with fixing the structurally deficient bridges.
“That doesn't mean that they're dangerous bridges. Based on a life cycle or based on usage, those bridge need the next set of funding to get them fixed,” Redeker said.
The bridges in the worst conditions will need to be replaced.
“At the same time, there are 1,700 bridges that were built in the 1950s and the 1960s with a 50 year life span and those bridges have been operating over capacity for years,” Shubert said.
DOT records obtained by the Eyewitness News I-Team show there are structurally deficient bridges across the state, including at the viaducts in Waterbury and Hartford, and along the I-95 corridor in Fairfield County.
There are repairs underway on the Putnam bridge connecting Glastonbury and Wethersfield, and the replacement of the Quinnipiac bridge between New Haven and East Haven.
“That is just scary - I did not know that,” said Elaine Wieche of Plainville.
“The last time a bridge fell down, which was Mianus (in Greenwich) was the last time there was a significant investment in bridges,” Redeker said.
Three people died after a 100-foot section of the I-95 bridge fell into the river, in 1983.
“If a bridge is in any serious condition, we don't want people on it, we post it, we shut it down,” Redeker added.
The DOT said about half of the bridges on the list of 160, are owned and maintained by local cities and towns, not the state.
Stamford has eight, Bristol has seven, and New Haven and Hamden each have six.
Federal funding for repairs runs out at the end of this month, and while it will likely be replenished, the question is whether those funds will come close to what is needed to fix the issues.
Earlier this year Gov. Dannel Malloy appointed a state commission to find alternative ways to paying for the fixes.
“You could have congestion pricing with tolls,” Shubert said. “You could add capacity and only toll the new lanes. You could fundamentally raise the gas tax.”
Drivers said they don't care where the money comes from, but want bridges to be safe.
“We want them fixed because safety is number one. And if we have to pay more for it, I guess we will,” Wieche said.
The DOT said repairs will continue while the federal funding is available, and they said all of the problem bridges, state and local, are on schedule to be either rehabbed or completely replaced.
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