Concrete Falls From I-495/95 Bridge, Previously Ruled "Structura - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Concrete Falls From I-495/95 Bridge, Previously Ruled "Structurally Deficient"

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I-495 Bridge in Morningside, Md in Prince George's County I-495 Bridge in Morningside, Md in Prince George's County

TOWSON, Md. - Road crews were out repairing a busy bridge Wednesday on the Capital Beltway in Maryland after chunks of concrete fell from the bridge and onto a vehicle Tuesday afternoon. 

While the car's windshield was damaged, the driver was not injured.

According to the Maryland State Highway Administration, the I-495 bridge is on a list of the state's structurally deficient bridges. "This is yet another reminder of why transportation funding in Maryland is so critically needed," said Ragina Cooper Averella, Manager of Public and Government Affairs at AAA Mid-Atlantic.

The I-495/95 Bridge located in Morningside over Suitland Road in Prince George's County is one of 81 structurally deficient bridges in the state, advises AAA Mid-Atlantic. Its structurally deficient features included deck deterioration, according to a 2014 report by Maryland transportation officials.

According to the Maryland State Highway Administration's April 1, 2014 report on structurally deficient bridges, "there are 2570 bridges on the Maryland State Highway System, of which 81 are classified as structurally deficient, or about 3%. The number of structurally deficient bridges has decreased from 143 in 2006 to 81 in 2014."

"While the number of structurally deficient bridges has declined in Maryland by 43 percent since 2006, this incident highlights the continued need for adequate transportation funding," said Averella.

According to the Maryland State Highway Administration's FY14 Annual Report, it "addressed 11 structurally deficient bridges listed on the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) submittal in April 2013, resulting in 97 percent of all 2,570 structures being ranked in fair or better condition.  For the April 2014 FHWA submittal, only 81 bridges were rated structurally deficient, the lowest number since tracking began."

The SHA report explains, "The structurally deficient rating is an early warning sign for engineers to use to prioritize funding and to initiate rehabilitation or to begin the process to replace the bridge. The rating applies to three main elements of a bridge: 1) the deck (riding surface); 2) the superstructure (main supporting element of the deck, usually beams, girders, trusses, etc.); and 3) the substructure (supports to hold up the superstructure and deck, usually abutments and piers). These elements are rated on a scale from zero (closed to traffic) to nine (relatively new)."

The "2011 Report Card for Maryland's Infrastructure" by the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) graded 333 of the 5,291 bridges in Maryland as "structurally deficient" and 1,085 of the 5,291 bridges in Maryland as "functionally obsolete."

The ASCE also found that 20 percent of Maryland's 4,596 miles of major roads are in poor condition.  This includes all Maryland roads not just State operated roads.  

Driving on roads in need of repair, costs Maryland motorists $1.598 billion a year in extra vehicle repairs and operating costs, or "$422 per motorist," according to the "2013 Report Card for America's Infrastructure" issued by the American Society of Civil Engineers.

The problem isn't just statewide, says AAA Mid-Atlantic, it is national in scope.  The Federal Highway Trust Fund will go insolvent this year and hundreds of thousands of miles of roads will go unfixed. In contrast to Maryland, Virginia motorists spend $1.344 billion a year - or $254 per motorist - in extra vehicle repairs and operating costs from driving on roads in need of repair, ASCE estimates. It costs District of Columbia motorists $311 million a year, says ASCE, or $833 per motorist. In the nation's capital, around 40 percent of the city's roads are in poor or very poor condition, reports the District Department of Transportation.

Last November, Maryland voters cast their ballots overwhelmingly in support of Question 1, a measure to protect Maryland's often-raided Transportation Trust Fund.

Long a responsible and effective voice at the local, state and national levels, AAA seeks to protect and improve the rights and privacy of motorists and travelers. AAA is the nation's premier auto club with nearly 55 million members nationwide and was founded as an advocate for motorists, an advocacy effort that has continued for over 110 years. 

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