Local Structurally Deficient Bridges

Posted at: 05/24/2013 5:58 PM
Updated at: 05/24/2013 6:14 PM
By: Katie Eldred

(ABC 6 News) -- While the bridge that collapsed in Washington was not entirely due to poor bridge conditions, it has brought up the conversation of bridge conditions around the country.

The state of Minnesota has more than a thousand structurally deficient bridges. Those are bridges that require serious maintenance or replacement.

Most bridges are designed to last around 50 years, but many of our bridges are older than that. Like the bridge on 6th St. SE in Rochester that is on the list of structurally deficient bridges.

"In southeast Minnesota we have over 800 bridges that need to be looked at, just on the MnDOT roads," said MnDOT spokesperson Kristin Kammueller.

Since the 35-W collapse MnDOT has been especially active in keeping track of bridge conditions across the state.

"We have annual inspections and biannual inspections so all of our bridges are getting looked at every year," said Kammueller.

Inspectors look at the three components of a bridge. If one of those structures is rated a 4 or less the bridge is classified as structurally deficient.

In Olmsted County 4 percent of bridges are structurally deficient. In Fillmore County that number is much higher at 18 percent. In Mower County they have the 2nd highest percentage in the state with 23 percent of their bridges listed as structurally deficient.

A Fillmore County highway worker said while they have been working to fix these issues, there is never enough money to go around to actually get caught up.

"Whether it's a big expansion, or bridges, or just making sure the pavement is in good condition, we need funding in order to maintain that," said Kammueller.

While bridge by bridge progress is being made, for now all that can be done is for officials to stay on top of the issue.

"We are very diligent and keep track of inspecting them, making sure they are safe," said Kammueller.

Nationwide Minnesota sits in the middle when it comes to bridge conditions ranking 34th.

Transportation commissioner Charles Zelle, who stopped in Rochester Thursday, said he's hoping that next year’s legislation will focus more on funding for transportation.