Higher volumes of vehicles on the road over the next 25 years is expected to increase cement consumption in the bridge sector, according to a new report from the Portland Cement Association (PCA). The Bridge Market Assessment estimates the U.S. will need as many as 140,000 new bridges by 2040, nearly 60 percent or 81,200 of which will be made using cement.

“With more people on the roads, existing bridges will increasingly become chokepoints,” said PCA Chief Economist and Senior Vice President Ed Sullivan. “As a result, more cement will be needed either to build new bridges or to add lanes to existing ones.”

Sullivan adds that the overwhelming percentage of bridge cement consumption today is attributed to bridge expansion (81 percent), compared to bridge replacement (14 percent) or rehabilitation (5 percent).

Through 2040, the report finds:

  • Baseline population is expected to increase by 59 million people, a 17.4 percent increase.
  • Licensed drivers are projected to grow by nearly 40 million.
  • The number of vehicles on the road will rise by nearly 53 million.
  • The total annual vehicle miles traveled is projected to grow by 600 billion miles.
  • The number of bridge crossings are expected to increase from 733 billion in 2015 to nearly 867 billion.

To meet traffic capacity demands, PCA expects annual cement consumption in the bridge sector averaging 6.2 million metric tons (Mt) during the 2017-2040 window compared to a 5.9 Mt annual average since 2010.

While nearly 57,000 bridges need repair or rehabilitation, according to the American Society of Civil Engineers, they reflect less than 10 percent of all bridges in the U.S., and that percentage is expected to shrink to less than 3 percent over the next 25 years. As a result, by 2040, 92 percent of bridge cement consumption will be for bridge expansion, concluded PCA.

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