State Examines Bridge Safety

1 decade 11 months 2 weeks ago Friday, August 03 2007 Aug 3, 2007 Friday, August 03, 2007 12:24:34 PM CDT August 03, 2007 in News

In the aftermath of the Minneapolis bridge collapse, the state legislature called to ensure Missouri bridges are safe.

Their proposal, called the Safe and Sound program, will fix or replace those worn out bridges in five years, with an estimated cost of up to $600,000,000.

Currently bridges get inspected at least once every other year, and if MoDOT classifies it as a problem bridge, inspections are more frequent.

Red flags include structure deficiency or a finding that a bridge is functionally obsolete. In Missouri, more than 5,000 bridges are considered structurally deficient, and more than 3,000 are classified as functionally obsolete.

Representative Neal St. Onge said the program has been stalled over a bond requirement technicality. He also said Gov. Blunt can get the program moving again by calling a special legislative session next month.

Experts say this is not necessarily a problem.

"The classification of a bridge that is structurally deficient doesn't mean the bridge is necessarily unsafe. It means you have a structural condition that needs to be improved - for example, it's corroded or it has spawns. So it's not necessarily it's an unsafe bridge, it just has structural elements that are not in as good a condition as the ought to be," Jim Carney of MoDOT said.

When inspectors check out bridges, they look at the foundation, the road top, and the overhead support, and once every five years they check underwater structures.

MoDOT said it would shut down a bridge before it became too dangerous to drive on.

Today Gov. Blunt emphasized MoDOT must immediately inspect all bridges in Missouri designed like the one that collapsed in Minneapolis. MoDOT engineers have found one such bridge in mid-Missouri. It's on Highway 5, the hurricane deck bridge over the Lake of the Ozarks. Transportation leaders say there's no reason to assume the bridge is unsafe.

There are more than 20,000 bridges in the state, with 10,000 bridges in the state highway system.

Click on the Related Links section to see more information about Missouri's most deficient major bridges. Also you can see Missouri's plan to improve at least 800 of the state's bridges.  Also, click onto the federal inventory of the nation's bridges.

You will find of the state's 24,000 bridges, nearly 20 percent, or 4400, were structurally deficient, meaning they are deteriorating.

Only three states have more bridges in poor condition.

Another 3100 Missouri bridges, or 13 percent, are not constructed to modern standards for loading and traffic volume.

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