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Maryland Department of Transportation
State Highway Administration
Maryland Bridge Safety

Whenever reports are issued on structures' conditions that identify deficient bridges, the numbers not only include structurally deficient bridges, but include those identified as functionally obsolete. Bridges are considered functionally obsolete if they have deck geometry, frequent flooding, clearance or approach roadway alignment that no longer meets the criteria for the system for which the bridge is a part.

Since a significant number of these structures are identified on the State system, and since SHA is constantly working to improve the overall system, we believe the time has come to not only continue efforts to eliminate all structurally deficient bridges, but to begin to identify, prioritize and perform construction efforts to reduce the number of functionally obsolete bridges that we believe affect traffic flow and safety and can be economically accomplished.

During Calendar Year 2005, SHA completed the first step in this effort, which was to identify all functionally obsolete bridges on our system, indicating the characteristics causing them to be functionally obsolete. During Calendar Year 2006, we completed our evaluation of the deficiencies that caused the structures to be functionally obsolete. We have broken down the deficiencies by categories; the results are shown below. (Some bridges are both functionally obsolete and structurally deficient; structures with both deficiencies are only listed under structurally deficient bridges.)

The number of structures on the functionally obsolete bridge list is 411 as of the 2007 submittal. There are no structurally deficient bridges included in this number.

  Total Number of State Bridges = 2584
Deck Geometry Under Geometry Horizontal Under Geometry Vertical Approach Geometry Flooding
244 138 12 16 1
  Note: Some structures are functionally obsolete in several categories. For charting purposes, they are only listed under one heading.
  Total = 411
  Deck Geometry - 244 bridges are FO in this Category
Deck Width Deficiency Number of structures
2 feet or less 81
Over 2 feet to 4 feet 71
Over 4 feet to 6 feet 40
Over 6 feet 52
  Under Geometry - Horizontal clearance 138 bridges are FO in this category
Minimal clearance to vertical obstruction Number of structures
1 foot or less 81
Over 1 foot to 2 feet 5
Over 2 feet to 3 feet 6
Over 3 feet to 4 feet 25
Over 4 feet 21
   Under Geometry - Vertical clearance 12 bridges are FO in this category
Vertical Clearance No of structures
Under 10 feet 0
10 feet to 12 feet 2
12 feet to 13 feet 0
13 feet to 14 feet 10
Bridge # Route Carried Feature intersected Vertical clearance ADT Under
2302200 MD 90 Ocean Parkway 10'-0'' 2,000
1303400 US 40 Patapsco Forest Road 11'-1'' unknown
1303500 US 1 Race Track Road 13'-1'' unknown
1510400 I-495 Macarthur Boulevard 13'-6'' 13,120
2109403 I-70 EB Licking Creek, County Road 13'-6'' 100
0312300 I-695 Ingleside Avenue 13'-9'' 10,864
0323900 I-70 Ingleside Avenue 13'-11'' 13,017
0314900 I-695 Greenspring Avenue 14'-0'' 11,666
0316600 I-695 Joppa Road 14'-0'' 14,903
1514300 I-495 NW Ramp Macarthur Boulevard 14'-0'' 15,650
1610803 MD 4 SB Race Track Road 14'-0'' unknown
1610804 MD 4 NB Race Track Road 14'-0'' unknown
  Maximun Legal Height of Vehicle Including Load is 13'6''


  There are 16 structures which are FO in this category.

  The structures in this category were rated functionally obsolete because approaching traffic needs to make driving adjustments (slow down,sharp turn, etc.) before crossing the bridge.


  The one structure in this category is MD 12 over the Pocomoke River.



Clearly, inadequate bridge clear roadway width (lack of shoulders) is the major contributor to functionally obsolete bridges in Maryland. We identified those bridges where the bridge deck clear roadway was less than 24 feet and found 49 structures. Review of our photo inventory shows that the approach roadway section leading into and out of these bridges does not carry any shoulder either.


Now that we've narrowed the number down to 411 functionally obsolete bridges, we are gathering accident statistics to see whether or not any of these functionally obsolete structures are causing an extraordinary amount of accidents because of the deficiencies. It is not our intention to do any work on a functionally obsolete roadway width unless the structure is scheduled for work to improve its capacity. At that time, the functional obsolescence will be addressed as well. For deck replacements, we will add as much width as portions of the existing substructure and superstructure can tolerate.


Horizontal and vertical clearance inadequacies can usually only be handled by total replacements of the structure. This also includes lowering the roadway below, or raising the roadways above, which makes any efforts in this category highly unlikely unless there is a definite safety or traffic flow problem.

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Revised: June 18, 2008