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Memorial Bridge, 175 others bridges ‘deficient’ with fixes in limbo

Memorial Bridge across the Potomac River is one of the bridges in need of emergency repairs but the timetable for major fixes is holding. (WTOP/Megan Cloherty)

WASHINGTON — One hundred seventy-six area bridges are in structural disrepair and there may not be enough funding to fix them and maintain regional roads in a timely manner.

That’s the word from a new report the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments. At a meeting with the Council of Governments, transportation departments from Virginia, Maryland and D.C. expressed concern about the lack of committed federal funding for repairs.

“Right now, we have $2 billion worth of transportation projects that are under way or about to be under way, and if the federal government cannot reimburse the state and local governments for the construction of these projects, they’re going to have to delay them or defer them,” says Robert Griffiths, acting co-director of transportation planning for the Council of Governments.

VDOT, MDOT and DDOT representatives say they need to know the federal government will fund repairs to state highways before they can plan more needed repairs.

During the meeting Wednesday, the council approved a motion to send a letter to Congress urging action to replenish the Highway Trust Fund.

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If the federal funding falls out, it not only means unfilled potholes. It could be dangerous for commuters. For example, Memorial Bridge is one of 176 bridges recently reported “deficient” to the Council of Governments. It carries more than a million drivers per day.

“The Memorial Bridge — we are going to have to make some emergency repairs in the very near future and then begin construction in 2016,” Griffiths says.

He hopes it will be coordinated with repairs that also need to be made on the Roosevelt Bridge, so both are not going on at the same time.

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