Utah named best in nation for well-maintained bridges
Isaac Hale, Special to the Daily Herald
Many of the bridges throughout the U.S. have seen better days. Plenty of them are in poor, and even worse, conditions. It appears, however, that Utah is a bridge builder in maintaining and sustaining these special byways.
Whether owned by the Federal government or local jurisdictions, Utah’s long-term effort to keep bridges in good shape has not gone unnoticed.
On Friday, Utah was ranked best in the nation for the condition of its highway bridges. In a report issued by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Highways Administration, Utah’s bridges are considered the best maintained.
Utah has the lowest percentage of bridges on the National Highway System (which includes interstates and other key U.S. highways) classified in “poor” condition out of all 50 states.
Only 0.1% of bridges in Utah are considered in poor condition based on the quality of the driving surface, support beams, bases and columns.
Courtesy Utah Department of Transportation
By these measurements, a state can be penalized if they have more than 10% the state’s bridges in poor or less than poor condition, according to the FHA.
“UDOT has a proactive approach to maintaining Utah’s roads and bridges – we say, ‘good roads cost less,’ and our focus is on keeping them in good condition, rather than waiting until major repairs are needed,” said Rebecca Nix, Utah Department of Transportation bridge management engineer. “This helps our roads and bridges last longer, makes them safer, and is a more efficient way to utilize taxpayer funds.”
Only two National Highway System bridges across the beehive state were in poor condition at the time the data was submitted to FHWA — the southbound I-15 bridge over East Nichols Canyon Road in Cedar City, which was replaced earlier this year, and the I-84 westbound bridge over 4400 South in Riverdale, which is scheduled for replacement in 2025.
The I-80 bridge over 2000 East in Salt Lake City was downgraded to poor condition earlier this year, but its replacement is currently under construction as part of the I-80/I-215 reconstruction in east Salt Lake County.
When it comes to Utah County, there is only one bridge – in American Fork — that is in poor condition and the money has already be dispensed to have it fixed.
With the expansion of Interstate 15 in Utah County over the past decade, there have been a number of bridges either upgraded or replaced. New motor vehicle and pedestrian bridges have been put in place all the way from Lehi to Payson.
“There are 261 bridges in Utah County, 182 are state owned and the remainder are owned by local agencies,” Nix said.
One of the most important bridge building projects in the past few years in Utah County was the I-15 Technology Corridor in Lehi.
The I-15 Technology Corridor was the final piece in reconstructing I-15 in northern Utah County, as the project included the last section of I-15 to be widened between Bangerter Highway and Spanish Fork. That construction included reconfiguring and adding bridges.
“This project, along with I-15 CORE, The Point, Access Utah County (all projects completed during Governor Gary Herbert’s tenure) and more have created a transportation network that allows business to thrive,” UDOT spokesman John Gleason said. “We’ve been working on I-15 in Utah and Salt Lake Counties since prior to the 2002 Winter Olympics. This was one of the final pieces.”
As part of that expansion, UDOT replaced significant amounts of aging infrastructure with new pavement designed to last another 40 years and bridges designed to last 75 years.
Bridges have been built at Pioneer Crossing, along I-15 in American Fork, Pleasant Grove and the largest expanse bridge for pedestrians was built across I-15 from the Utah Transit Authority FrontRunner intermodal station in west Orem to Utah Valley University on the east side of the freeway.