Bridges are a prominent part of the Hampton Roads landscape. Major spans such as the Coleman Bridge, James River Bridge, and High Rise Bridge provide a connection between distinct areas of the region. Bridges on the Interstate system create a limited access network designed to improve mobility into and throughout the region. And smaller structures such as culverts span the myriad of creeks, swamps, and waterways in our region.
Because of the importance of bridges to the regional transportation system and concerns about the condition and funding of bridges, the Hampton Roads Transportation Planning Organization prepares the Hampton Roads Regional Bridge Study on a regular basis. The 2018 update of the Hampton Roads Regional Bridge Study – which was approved by the HRTPO Board at their May meeting – includes sections regarding bridge definitions, regional summaries, bridge inspections and ratings, deficient bridges, fracture and scour critical bridges, health indices, bridge funding, bridge projects, and the anticipated cost of maintaining bridges through 2045. In many sections of the report, comparisons are made between the condition of bridges in Hampton Roads and those in 37 comparable metropolitan areas throughout the country with populations between one and three million people.
Below is some notable information included in the Hampton Roads Regional Bridge Study – 2018 update:
- There are fewer bridges in Hampton Roads than in many other areas….but bridges here are much longer – There are 1,261 bridges in Hampton Roads. This number is actually lower than in other comparable metropolitan areas, ranking only 26th highest among 37 metropolitan areas with populations between one and three million people. Hampton Roads, however, does have longer bridges than most other areas, with the 2nd longest average bridge length among these 37 areas.
- Bridge age – The median age of bridges in Hampton Roads is 39 years as of December 2017, and 392 bridges (31%) in the region are at least 50 years old.
- The condition of bridges in Hampton Roads is improving - A bridge is classified as structurally deficient if it has elements that need to be monitored and/or repaired. Structurally deficient bridges typically require maintenance and eventually need to be rehabilitated or replaced to address deficiencies. There are 66 bridges in Hampton Roads that are classified as structurally deficient as of December 2017. This is down from a high of 80 structurally deficient bridges just 3 years earlier.
- Bridges in Hampton Roads are generally in better condition than in other areas – The percentage of bridges that are classified as structurally deficient in Hampton Roads (5.2%) is lower than in many other comparable metropolitan areas. Hampton Roads ranks 24th highest among the 37 metropolitan areas with populations between one and three million people in terms of the percentage of bridges that are classified as structurally deficient.
- As bridges continue to age, providing adequate funding for bridges will be difficult – HRTPO staff calculated that $4.5 billion would be necessary to fund the maintenance of bridges in Hampton Roads through 2045. Most of these funds – over $3.5 billion – will be needed in 2034 and later years.
The Hampton Roads Regional Bridge Study – 2018 Update report can be accessed by clicking on the following link:
Hampton Roads Regional Bridge Study – 2018 Update