There are places in almost every county in Indiana- almost- where you can find at least one winding road with a snake on a yellow sign and a posted speed limit, often 20 miles per hour, warning of a sharp turn up ahead. Often it leads across a bridge which may or may not be narrow, and may or maybe not have a weight limit.
The Indiana Soybean Alliance set out three years ago to find out how bridges rated in terms of their state of repair or disrepair. The goal was to make public officials aware of the need to commit funds to keeping up infrastructure so that ag goods and products and get to market. The original report was issued in 2009 and it was just issued again recently, as an update, based upon 2010 data. Bridges are assigned a sufficiency rating based upon several factors that road engineer understand best. A bridge that scores 80 or better needs no repair. About two-thirds of Indiana’s bridges fell in that category in the initial report, and still fell in that category in the follow-up report.
One thing that Roz Leeck, the Indiana Soybean Alliance specialist working up results from the most recent update to the survey, finds surprising is that despite the southern third of the state being hilly with winding roads and the western part of the state being rural with often minimal funds devoted to toad upkeep, Indiana falls nearly smack dab in the middle of other key Midwestern and southern states in terms of having very poor bridges that need replacing.
The question that the report looked at was what percent of bridges in the state were rated at 25% or less. These are very poor bridges on the sufficiency scale, in bad need of repair. Out of 17 states, ranked from least to most number of these bridges, Indiana ranked eighth.
One thing that doesn’t show up in the study is why states above Indiana have fewer bridges that have sunk into this category, Have they kept better care of their bridges and devoted more money to them. Or have they simply abandoned and closed bridges and roads which were in such bad shape.Wisconsin had the fewest number of these bridges. Nebraska and North Carolina had second most, and the most, respectively.