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Last week, the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) released its most recent Highway Bridge Report. The report details the condition of Michigan’s 4,396 highway bridges and is an important indicator of their level of safety. According to the report, nearly 300 bridges are deemed “structurally deficient,” while nearly 1000 are “functionally obsolete.” Although neither rating means there is any specific danger of imminent failure, it does mean that more than a quarter of our state’s highway bridges need attention.

MDOT has been providing highway bridge updates for more than 4 years now. The transparency was prompted by the tragic I-35W bridge collapse in Minnesota in August of 2007. Importantly, that catastrophe was due less to inadequate bridge inspection than to flawed design. Still, constant monitoring of bridge conditions and traffic loads is crucial to keeping motorists safe.

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