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Status of the Nation's Highways, Bridges, and Transit:
2004 Conditions and Performance
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Chapter 3 Executive Summary

System Conditions: Highway and Bridges

The ride quality of 87.4 percent of the Nation's total road mileage was rated "Acceptable" in 2002, up from 86.0 percent in 2000. Ride quality is defined based on pavement roughness. Pavements with roughness below 170 inches per mile are considered to have "acceptable" ride quality. Pavements with "good" ride quality comprised 46.6 percent of total highway mileage in 2002.

Percentage of pavement mileage with acceptable ride quality. Bar chart. Two values are given at each bar, a total at the top and a value for pavement designated good. For 1995, the total is 85 percent acceptable pavement, and 43.3 percent is rated good. For 1997, the total is 86.6 percent, and 42.8 percent is rated good; for 1999, the total is 85.4 percent, and 41.1 percent is rated good; for 2000, the total is 86.0 percent, and 43.2 percent is rated good; and for 2002, the total is 87.4 percent, and 46.6 percent is rated good.

Pavement ride quality is generally better on higher functional class roads, and is better in rural areas (where 94.1 percent of travel is on pavements with acceptable ride quality) than in urbanized areas.

Percentage of VMT on pavement with acceptable ride quality, by urban size. Bar chart. Two values are given at each bar, a total at the top and a value for pavement designated good. For rural areas, the total is 94.1 percent acceptable pavement, and 58.0 percent is rated good. For small urban areas, the total is 84.4 percent, and 41.6 percent is rated good; for urbanized areas, the total is 79.3 percent, and 34.1 percent is rated good.

Information on ride quality on the National Highway System (the basis of the pavement performance measures in DOT's Strategic Plan) is located in Chapter 17.

The number of deficient bridges is widely used by policymakers to describe bridge quality nationwide. Deficient bridges include those characterized both as structurally deficient (deteriorated condition and the reduced load-carrying capacity) and as functionally obsolete (based appraisals of clearance adequacy, deck geometry, and alignment). Of the 591,707 bridges in the inventory, 162,869 (27.5 percent) were deficient in 2002. Of these, 81,304 (13.7 percent) were classified as structurally deficient and 81,565 (13.8 percent) were classified as functionally obsolete.

The percentage of bridges classified as deficient declined from 28.5 percent in 2000 to 27.5 percent in 2002. This reduction is mostly due to work done to correct problems on structurally deficient bridges. The percentage of functionally obsolete bridges has not changed significantly.

Percentage of Rural and Urban Bridge Deficiencies, by Number of Bridges
Year 1998 2000 2002
Rural Bridges
Structurally Deficient17.4%16.2%15.1%
Functionally Obsolete11.4%11.4%11.4%
Total Deficiencies28.8%27.6%26.5%
Urban Bridges
Structurally Deficient11.0%9.9%9.2%
Functionally Obsolete21.5%22.0%21.9%
Total Deficiencies32.5%31.9%31.2%
All Bridges
Structurally Deficient16.0%14.8%13.7%
Functionally Obsolete13.6%13.8%13.8%
Total Deficiencies29.6%28.5%27.5%

Other indicators of bridge conditions, including the traffic carried on deficient bridges and the deck area on deficient bridges, are described in the body of Chapter 3 and in Chapter 15.

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