How Safe are New Jersey’s Bridges?

Posted on March 24, 2016 at 12:00pm by

The roads and bridges in New Jersey are some of the oldest in the United States. Our state suffers from heavy congestion and a dense population that serve to accelerate the degradation of our roads and bridges. The state has made several efforts to bring our bridges up to standard for the purposes of safety – but how successful have those efforts been?

Close-up car accident

New Jersey Bridges – The 8th Worst in the Country

According to statistics released by the Federal Highway Administration, 34.5 percent of the bridges in New Jersey needed repairs due to inadequate ability to manage traffic loads or because they failed current safety standards. The nationwide average of unsafe bridges rests around 23 percent, for comparison.

Fortunately, the state inspects its bridges regularly. Just because a bridge is rated unsafe does not mean collapse is imminent. If a significant structural problem is discovered, the state shuts it down until the problem is corrected. This happened most recently with the U.S. Route 206 bridge over Stony Brook in Princeton, the oldest bridge in New Jersey.

In most cases, bridge failures come with no injuries or deaths; however, even the tiniest engineering error can lead to mass fatalities and personal injuries. In one of the most famous bridge collapses in United States history, that of the Silver Bridge over the Ohio River in 1967, 46 people were killed as the bridge failed during rush hour traffic. The cause of the collapse was linked to the failure of a single eyebar in a suspension chain. The eyebar failed because of a 2.5mm defect that was missed due to a lack of maintenance and the fact that the bridge was bearing much heavier loads than intended.

Victims of bridge collapses, construction defects and motor vehicle accidents should speak to a personal injury attorney to determine if negligence was the primary cause of their injuries.


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