Rebuilding Our Infrastructure

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The Facts about Corrosion and Our Bridges and Infrastructure

With over 610,000 bridges in the United States, the average designed bridge lifespan of each is 50 years.  Unfortunately, the average age of our bridges is already 43 years and, because of factors like corrosion, there are currently structurally deficient bridges among them.  These are bridges that are considered to have a “significant defect” and require monitoring and/or repair.

The estimated cost to recoat the bridges that require maintenance is approximately $500 million.  The cost to replace them?  A whopping $3.7 BILLION.  That’s quite a difference, to say the least.

bridge numbers


The Cause of Corrosion

The presence of moisture in the air, which we call humidity, interacting with the metal surfaces of structures, such as bridges and overpasses, causes corrosion.  It is a natural, destructive electro-chemical process that is intensified by chemical interactions between gases in the environment.

In order to prevent corrosion, we must limit metal’s exposure to air and water.  This is done primarily through the application of a protective coating on the metal.  To put it simply; we have to cover the metal in the structures with paint.

Yet, this is no ordinary paint.  It is a coating specialized for this use.  It costs hundreds of dollars per gallon and it must be applied correctly (down to the millimeter) for it to be effective.  If the coating is too thick or too thin, it won’t be as successful in preventing corrosion.

That is why the IUPAT is building the most skilled and trained workforce for coating application.

The IUPAT and the Corrosion Fight

With the U.S. Department of Transportation estimating that our highways and bridges are in need of $479 billion in critical repairs, the IUPAT is growing our workforce with the necessary training to make those repairs when Congress begins funding.  That means more IUPAT jobs for members and a larger market share in the industrial coatings industry for our employers.

Learn more about the facts of corrosion and our infrastructure at

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