Cracking concrete. Gaping holes. Rusted metal. Crumbling supports. Take a close-up look at some of the worst bridges in Massachusetts.

What if your kid’s bus went over this Taunton bridge?

Taunton Resident"Yes, yes I think it could be dangerous. Or you drove your family over this one in Quincy?”

Quincy Resident"Hopefully something can be done. What if there were a fire in Diami's Attleboro apartment? The Olive Street Bridge is the quickest way for the fire department to get to her.”

But the Olive Street Bridge is in such bad shape the fire department's best ladder trucks aren't allowed to cross it.

Chief Ron Churchill, Attleboro Fire Department"I think its crazy but what choice to we have."

The state knows these bridges and hundreds more need repair and there are plans to fix them, but our investigation reveals in town after town residents may be forced to wait more than a decade for that to happen.

Diami, Attleboro Resident"That's just too dangerous."

We analyzed the complicated engineering stats ranking each of the 6000 bridges in this state. A score of 100, like this bridge in Billerica, is the highest you can get. The Minnesota bridge that collapsed with such deadly consequences was a 50.

This Quincy bridge is a two. So is this one in Framingham, Attleboro, Taunton, Falmouth, Boston and Marshfield.

We obtained these state plans showing the repair schedules and look at the fine print. This Falmouth bridge will be in progress 11 years. This closed bridge in Framingham eight years. Marshfield seven years. Boston seven years. This one in Attleboro 13 years.

Hank Phillippi Ryan, 7News Investigative Reporter"Six years. Eight years. Why is it taking this long?"

Luisa Paiewonsky, Mass Highway Commissioner"I think we recognize that in many cases it takes us too long to develop the projects and get them out the door, in other cases we have many more bridge projects than there are dollars available to fund the construction."

And although about 500 bridges need repair too little money and too much bureaucracy mean only 30-40 will begin this year. To delay the deterioration, officials block off lanes, post weight limits, and as on this bridge, prohibit trucks.

Time after time, that's ignored.

Hank Phillippi Ryan, 7News Investigative Reporter"Are these bridges dangerous?"

Luisa Paiewonsky, Mass Highway Commissioner"If we felt any of those bridges was dangerous, we would close it."

And look. This list we compiled of closed bridges, 4 dozen of them across the state, proves how often officials have to admit there's an emergency condition. We calculated what that means for drivers.

Hank Phillippi Ryan, 7News Investigative Reporter"193,000 times a day someone can't go where they want to go! Is that how that should work?"

Luisa Paiewonsky, Mass Highway Commissioner"Absolutely not. It is not acceptable to have a bridge close."

But we have learned this Newbury bridge, deteriorating rapidly, will be shut down next month. In other towns worried residents wonder if their bridges are next.

Resident"They wait 'til something happens, and then they'll do something about it. I think it’s sad."

Is there a bad bridge in your hometown? For more specifics on those in our story you can check our website. We've also posted a list of all the bridges in Massachusetts rated as needing repair or replacement.

Below is a list of all structurally deficient bridges in Massachusetts provided to us by the Mass Highway Department. Bridges that are highlighted are closed.

(Copyright (c) 2007 Sunbeam Television Corp. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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