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Updated National Bridge Inventory database available from NICAR

Now current through 2013, the National Bridge Inventory database can help you assess the soundness of bridges in your area. Journalists can use the data to investigate bridges by identifying those with structural problems, or that haven't been recently inspected. Other key fields include average daily traffic and overall sufficiency rating. The records represent information from the most recent inspection for each bridge (which could be several years ago or the current year).

The database includes data going back to 2004, and you can contact NICAR for data going back to 1994.


50-200 market or circulation below 50,000: $60

25-50 market or 50,000-100,000 circulation: $110

top 25 market or circulation above 100,000: $160

Ready to order? You can purchase the entire data set online or by contacting NICAR at or 573-884-7711


How to use the database

NICAR bridge data helps The Seattle Times do analysis on deadline after bridge collapse

Many US bridges old, risky and rundown (Associated Press): An AP analysis of 607,380 bridges in the most recent federal National Bridge Inventory showed that 65,605 were classified as "structurally deficient" and 20,808 as "fracture critical." Of those, 7,795 were both - a combination of red flags that experts say indicate significant disrepair and similar risk of collapse.

Following the Money: Rural bridges targeted (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel): The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel found that a vast majority of the Wisconsin bridges awarded $15.8 million of construction money in the first wave of federal stimulus funding carry fewer than 1,000 vehicles a day. A dozen of those get less than 100 cars a day. For the story, Poston mined National Bridge Inventory data available at the NICAR database library.

Coverage of collapsed bridges and dam failuresMatt Jacob, The Dallas Morning News, and Alex Richards, Chicago Tribune, discussed the National Bridge Inventory database during the 2014 CAR Conference. Read a summary of their talk or download the audio (IRE members only).

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