ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – New Mexico doesn’t have a lot of water, but it has its fair share of bridges: about 3,800 them.
“I love this bridge,” said Diane Wiltshire, as she walked her horse across one of those bridges near Socorro. “I think its a beautiful bridge.”
It may look beautiful, but the bridge over the Rio Puerco was built when Herbert Hoover was president. Like so many bridges, it is becoming worse for wear from rust, cracks and splintering wood to structural problems.
“This bridge has a lot of traffic, surprisingly,” she said. “A lot of cattle trucks, horse trailers.”
It’s one of about 250 state-owned and locally-owned bridges classified as “structurally deficient.”
“Structurally deficient makes it sound scary, or dangerous,” said Tom Church, cabinet secretary of the New Mexico Department of Transportation.
Church says if any of the structurally deficient bridges are dangerous, they’d close them.
Most structurally deficient bridges, like I-25 over Rio Bravo, are in poor condition and need serious repairs. The bridge over Rio Bravo is currently undergoing “Band-Aid” work, but there’s a bill in the legislature right now to give it a major overhaul.
Most of New Mexico’s bridges were built with a design life of 50 years, and the average age of a New Mexico bridge is about 50 years. New bridges like the Paseo flyover have a 100-year design life.
“It’s happening across the country. New Mexico is actually in better than most states,” Church said.
About 15 percent of the state’s bridges were structurally deficient a decade ago. Now, its closer to 5 percent compared to more than 20 percent in a few states.
To make the top of the list, it will take millions – an estimated $175 million to bring all our deficient bridges up to standard.
NMDOT currently allocates approximately $14 million per year for bridge preservation projects.
To see the information for bridges across the state click here.