How Safe Are Connecticut Bridges?

February 21, 2022
In This Article

A terrifying bridge collapse in Pennsylvania on Jan. 28 left ten people injured and seven wrecked vehicles amid the fallen rubble. Sources reported that the Fern Hollow Bridge, connecting Forbes Avenue to Frick Park in Pittsburgh, experienced a structural failure unprecedented for a bridge only 52-years-old. 

Unfortunately, many bridges across Connecticut are not as safe as we’d like to believe. There are hundreds of structurally deficient bridges crossed by millions of vehicles every day. Staying updated on bridge safety in your community is the first step to advocating for safer infrastructure, particularly when these tragedies lead to serious and life-threatening injuries. 

Why The Fern Hollow Bridge Collapsed 

Since the Fern Hollow Bridge collapse, several engineers and safety investigators have come forward with concerns regarding its long-standing history of poor maintenance. Investigations show that the Fern Hollow Bridge was last inspected in September and received poor structural marks; however, no maintenance was performed or scheduled before the collapse. 

The National Transportation Safety Board's initial evaluation states that the collapse may have originated from structural deficiencies on the deck. Officials reported that due to how the bridge caved in through the center, it appears the deck may have entirely separated from the abutment. 

Because the Fern Hollow Bridge failed during the winter months, engineering experts believe that cracks in the structure allowing for water and salt to corrode support elements may have contributed to the deck failure. Officials reported it would be at least 18-months before final determinations on the bridge collapse can be made. 

What is fairly certain about this horrific event is that a 50-year-old bridge should not have collapsed, especially when it was inspected only four months prior. Infrastructure experts have stated that if the bridge had been properly maintained, it should have lasted 70 to 80 years. 

Structurally Deficient Bridges in Connecticut 

Structurally Deficient Bridges in Connecticut

According to the American Road & Transportation Builders Association (A.R.T.B.A.), there are more than 47,000 structurally deficient bridges in the United States; 231 are located in Connecticut. 

As defined by the Federal Highway Administration, a structurally deficient bridge includes any bridge with at least one key support element in poor or failing condition. These support features include the deck, superstructure, and/or substructure or culverts. While some bridges only have one component in poor condition, others receive failing marks on all. 

What’s scarier than a dangerous bridge: a dangerous bridge traveled on by hundreds of thousands of cars every day. The image below lists the 10 Most Traveled Structurally Deficient Bridges in Connecticut, and 20% of these are located in Fairfield County: 

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Most of the above structures are on main roads and highways, but local bridges in Connecticut can be just as dangerous. An article by Yankee Institute reported that nearly half of the structurally deficient bridges in the state are local bridges owned and maintained by municipalities. While the Connecticut Department of Transportation may inspect the bridges, it is up to local governments to schedule repairs and maintenance to prevent collapses– sadly, so many of them do not. 

Jacobs & Wallace Connecticut Accident Attorneys 

Jacobs & Wallace Connecticut Accident Attorneys 

If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident, you need an experienced law firm to protect your rights. At Jacobs & Wallace, PLLC, we have decades of experience fighting for the rights of Connecticut residents injured in negligent acts. Call us today for a FREE case evaluation: 203-332-7700.


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