Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Missouri Bridges Safe for Travel

JEFFERSON CITY – It has been almost a year since the tragic collapse of the Interstate 35W bridge in Minneapolis, and the Missouri Department of Transportation has spent that time inspecting and evaluating bridges around the state.

The morning after the Aug. 1 tragedy, Gov. Matt Blunt asked MoDOT officials to inspect all deck truss bridges in the state that were similar to the bridge that collapsed. Just two months later, MoDOT had inspected the 11 deck truss bridges in depth and confirmed they were safe.

In January 2008, federal investigators determined that design flaws with some of the gusset plates, as well as weight added to the bridge, contributed to the Minneapolis collapse. Truss bridges use steel gusset plates to hold together the steel beams that support the structure. MoDOT has 232 truss bridges, 76 of which have had weight added to them since their original construction. To date, no problems related to the collapse of the Interstate 35W bridge have been found on these bridges.

"MoDOT takes bridge safety very seriously and we immediately close any structure we determine to be unsafe," said State Bridge Engineer Dennis Heckman. "When further information is released from the investigation of the collapse of the Interstate 35W bridge, we will determine if that information applies to the bridges in Missouri and take any action necessary."

Missouri has more than 10,000 bridges that are inspected a minimum of every two years.

Meanwhile, MoDOT continues developing its Safe & Sound Bridge Improvement Program.
This program will replace or rehabilitate more than 800 of the state’s most worn-out bridges. A map of the 800 bridges that will be improved or replaced is available at www.modot.org.

Also, MoDOT Director Pete Rahn joined Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell and other transportation officials in Philadelphia on July 28 to address the need for greater investment in the nation's bridges. Rahn is president of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, which has released an in-depth analysis that outlines the condition of America’s bridges and the future challenges to restore and rebuild those bridges. The report can be found at http://www.transportation.org/

Editor’s note: Photos of MoDOT Director Pete Rahn announcing the release of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials’ in-depth analysis of the condition of America’s bridges can be found at http://www.modot.org/newsroom/index.htm.