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Bridge work: Many Arizona overpasses in need of repair

PHOENIX — Hundreds of well-traveled bridges in Arizona are in need of repairs.

Of the state’s 8,035 bridges, 684 are considered functionally obsolete by the Federal Highway Administration.

The Tex Wash Bridge on eastbound Interstate 10 just west of the Arizona-California border, which collapsed Sunday, was also classified as functionally obsolete.

“We need to highlight the fact that there are more repairs that need to be done and there is a lot more than meets the eye,” Arizona Truckers Association President and CEO Tony Bradley said.

“The normal person could have looked at this bridge and said, ‘There’s no problem.’ ”

An additional 256 bridges are classified as structurally deficient, an even lower category than functionally obsolete.

“We still have 1.6 million drivers every day going over a structurally deficient bridge; that is scary, that is a public safety issue,” Bradley said.

The truckers association has taken a firm stance that the state has a critical need for bridge repairs. Bradley said both state and federal governments need to increase transportation funding.

“We need safe roads and we need reliable roads but some of the realities of the situation is we just don’t have enough money in the system to make all of the repairs necessary today,” Bradley said.

Commerce experts believe bridge collapses, including the Tex Wash Bridge failure, can also have long-lasting economic consequences.

“We look at the infrastructure system in this country as part of the cardiovascular system for moving goods and people and services across the country, it’s a prerequisite to having a healthy economy,” Glenn Hamer, president and CEO of the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said.

As shipping trucks and tourists are diverted and delayed on the I-10, Hamer said Arizona is losing money.

“This is a very busy route,” he said. “Over 20,000 cars make this connection every single day.”

The chamber is also lobbying to get the Tex Wash bridge, as well as other functionally obsolete and structurally deficient bridges, repaired to protect both drivers and the state’s economy.