VDOT disagrees as Roanoke bridge named to nation's 'structurally deficient' list

VDOT crews wrapped up repairs last summer

ROANOKE, Va. – A new report shows more than 54,000 bridges in the U.S. are structurally deficient, including some in southwest Virginia.

However one of those bridges, on Interstate 581 over Orange Avenue in Roanoke, has seen major progress in recent years.

The report from the American Road and Transportation Builders Association lists 10 bridges in Roanoke County as structurally deficient. The bridge over Orange Avenue is ranked as the fifth-busiest structurally deficient bridge in Virginia.

"During the inspection, the condition of the superstructure, which is the portion, the top part of the bridge was rated in poor condition. They've indicated that the work that needs to be done on this bridge is a full replacement so what they have the resources to do, of course, is a different question," Alison Black, the association's senior vice president and chief economist,  said.

While VDOT crews haven't replaced the bridge, they have made necessary repairs. Spokesperson Jason Bond said they wrapped up a yearlong, $1.3 million construction project last summer, replacing a damaged part of the bridge and raising the clearance to 14 feet.

"This is a bridge that's been hit many times in the past by over-height vehicles, so by raising that clearance it should maybe reduce the frequency that it gets hit," Bond said.

He said that pulls it off the structurally deficient list. Yet Black said the new report is based off the most recent inspection in 2016.

"We do see bridges from year to year, they might go off the list and then they might be back on during their next inspection if the problems really haven't been addressed," Black said.

Bond said it has been addressed and the 70,000 plus drivers traveling the bridge every day have nothing to worry about.

"Structurally deficient doesn't mean that the bridge is unsafe, it means that a component of it needed some work, was in need of some repair and we did make those repairs," Bond said.

Black said it's going to take a big increase in federal spending to get the ball rolling on necessary bridge work. President Donald Trump is expected to bring up the nation's infrastructure challenges in his State of the Union address Tuesday night.

View the Virginia breakdown of the report.