The safety and preservation of the Rhode Island highway system is the top priority of the Rhode Island Department of Transportation. RIDOT staff is involved in designing, constructing, inspecting and maintaining our bridge inventory, and is committed to ensuring these structures remain safe.
What is a structurally deficient bridge?
Bridges are considered structurally deficient if there are elements of the bridge that need to be monitored and/or repaired. It means the bridge must be monitored, inspected and maintained, repaired or replaced at an appropriate time to maintain its structural integrity.
The fact that a bridge is structurally deficient does not imply that it is unsafe. If unsafe conditions are identified during a physical inspection, the structure must be closed.
What is a functionally obsolete bridge?
A functionally obsolete bridge is one that was built to standards that are not used today. These bridges are not automatically rated as structurally deficient, nor are they inherently unsafe. Functionally obsolete bridges are those that do not have adequate lane widths, shoulder widths, or vertical clearances to serve current traffic demand or to meet the current geometric standards, or those that may be occasionally flooded.
A functionally obsolete bridge is similar to an older house. A house built in 1950 might be perfectly acceptable to live in, but it does not meet all of today’s building codes. Yet, when it comes time to consider upgrading that house or making improvements, the owner must look at ways to bring the structure up to current standards.