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Bridges Nationwide Raise Red Flags, Missouri is Particularly Bad

Posted: Sep 15, 2013 1:41 PM by Brianna Stubler, KOMU 8 Digital Producer
Updated: Sep 15, 2013 1:41 PM

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JEFFERSON CITY - Thousands of state bridges around the United States have a combination of red flags that raise safety concerns, and Missouri's rank in the top.

Concerns worsen as floods leave damage across the country, with Colorado and New Mexico as some of the worst states effected.

Missouri has recently worked towards improving bridges, however, the state still ranks near the top in the number of bridges in poor condition and in those lacking structural redundancies to guard against collapse.

An Associated Press analysis of 607,380 bridges in the most recent federal National Bridge Inventory found that 7,795 of them were labeled as both "structurally deficient" and "fracture critical." The bridges carry more than 29 million vehicles a day.

Federal figures show Missouri had 687 bridges categorized as structurally deficient and "fracture critical." This means if even one section fails, they could completely collapse.

This ranking is third, behind only Iowa and Nebraska, but it is double the percentage of bridges nationally that were both structurally deficient and fracture critical.

The Missouri Department of Transportation says that list has been reduced by 47 bridges since it was submitted to the federal government last year, showing signs of slow improvement for Missouri.

Kansas is also experiencing problems with their bridges that mirror those of California and other larger states.
Kansas Association of Counties engineer Norm Bowers says the main obstacle is money; there is not enough money to fix all the bridges. He thinks half of the state's rural bridges will be closed in the next 50 years.

Calvin Reed, Department of Transportation bridge engineer, says state-owned bridges such as the Lewis and Clark Viaduct and Fairfax Bridge, which carry traffic over the Missouri River between Kansas City, Kansas, and Kansas City, Missouri, are among the older bridges the state is watching for signs of trouble.

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