Several national report cards in recent years have warned that America’s infrastructure is crumbling, and bridges are often highlighted as the poster child. Every year, it seems, some major bridge is forced to close due to deterioration. But bridge conditions are actually improving across the country, thanks to a federal and state commitment to the problem this decade. The number of “structurally deficient” bridges has declined 30 percent since 2000, according to federal data compiled by Bloomberg Government news agency

Nonetheless, bad bridges are still a huge problem: The federal government has rated one of every nine bridges, or more than 18,000, as structurally deficient—meaning ones that restrict vehicle weight, require immediate rehabilitation, or are closed. In fact, there are more deficient bridges than McDonald’s restaurants in the 102 largest U.S. metro areas, according to a recent report from Transportation for America, a transportation investment advocacy coalition based in Washington, D.C. And the problem varies widely by metropolitan areas around the country.

In some metro areas, more than 20 percent of the bridges are rated as structurally deficient, and they still carry millions of vehicles every day. In other metropolitan areas, less than 1 percent of bridges are rated that bad. As might be expected, the metros with few deficient bridges are concentrated in warm-weather states such as Florida and Texas. But metro areas with the worst bridge problems can be found from coast to coast, from chilly northeastern climates to sunny California. The top ten metros with bad bridges range from Philadelphia to San Francisco, and from Providence, Rhode Island, to Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

These deficiencies have implications for ULI members and the real estate industry. Poor road and bridge conditions can inhibit travel as well as regional growth. A closed bridge can leave nearby properties isolated, lowering real estate values. That’s why the Institute has made infrastructure a strategic priority in recent years, with the publication of annual reports that recommend infrastructure investment strategies for both the public and private sectors.

Here are the top ten U.S. metropolitan areas with the highest percentages of structurally deficient bridges:

Rank

Metropolitan Area (over 1 million population)

Percentage Deficient

Total Deficient Bridges

Average Daily Traffic on Deficient Bridges

1

Pittsburgh, PA

30.4%

1,133

4,944,931

2

San Francisco, CA

20.9%

380

15,600,871

3

Philadelphia, PA

20.0%

907

9,355,193

4

Oklahoma City, OK

19.8%

685

1,857,956

5

San Jose, CA

18.7%

189

5,906,551

6

Providence, RI

18.6%

212

3,933,150

7

Sacramento, CA

15.4%

211

5,135,871

8

Riverside, CA

12.2%

296

5,020,110

9t

Charlotte, NC

12.1%

217

1,060,518

9t

Kansas City, MO

12.1%

617

2,041,581

10

Rochester, NY

12.0%

142

1,171,304

Source: Transportation for America.