Friday, August 3, 2007

Dozens Of N. Texas Bridges Structurally Deficient

Slideshow: Minneapolis Bridge Collapse
Minneapolis Bridge Collapse Complete Coverage

Robert Riggs - CBS 11 - Reporting

(CBS 11 News) DALLAS The CBS 11 Investigators have learned there are more than 100 structurally deficient bridges in North Texas. That means the bridges have major deterioration, cracks, or other flaws that reduce the ability to support traffic.

CBS 11 News Investigator Robert Riggs obtained a confidential list of structurally deficient bridges in Dallas, Denton, Collin, Kaufmann and Ellis counties. At least 15 of the bridges in those counties are in worse condition than the bridge that collapsed in Minneapolis.

In Dallas County the list of structurally deficient bridges includes:

The north and southbound lanes on Interstate 45 where it crosses over Interstate 30 near downtown Dallas.

The Old Houston Street viaduct where it crosses over Interstate 30 and the Trinity River on the southside of downtown.

The northbound lane of the Interstate 35E bridge over the Trinity River.

And northeast of Dallas, where Big Town blvd crosses over interstate 30.

To see the complete list in .pdf format, click here.

Ali Abolmaali, Professor of Structures at the University of Texas at Arlington told Riggs, a structurally deficient bridge could be a disaster waiting to happen. "It depends on the combination of loads that causes the failure," Abomaali said.

And it is that uncertainty after the Minneapolis bridge collapse that has many concerned. Abolmaali says old bridges weren't designed to handle today's heavy volume of traffic. "If it is structurally deficient and if it is not rehabilitated they should be concerned."

The Texas Department of Transportation refused to release the same information for its Fort Worth district, which includes Tarrant, Erath, Hood, Jack, Johnson, Palo Pinto, Parker, Somervell and Wise counties. Although, CBS 11 has filed a public records request seeking the information.

The City of Fort Worth did share details on several bridges it is watching carefully. In March, Fort Worth engineers found a structural deficiency in the Litsey Road bridge over Henrietta Creek and immediately closed it to traffic.

Four bridges in Fort Worth need work, according to city officials, but there's not enough money right now. Those bridges include northbound North University Drive, southbound North Riverside Drive, Silver Creek Road at Silver Creek and Silver Creek Road at Silver Creek Tributary.

Three bridges in Fort Worth are scheduled to be replaced and currently do have the necessary funding for the work. Those include:

East First Street over West Fork Trinity River

Precinct Line Road over Walkers Branch

West Seventh Street over Clear Fork Trinity River.
Statewide, more than 2,100 Texas bridges have been classified under the same "structurally deficient" rating given to the span that collapsed in Minnesota. That's just four percent of the state's approximately 50,000 bridges.

TxDOT spokesman Mark Cross says Texas bridges are inspected at least every two years -- and those with critical issues are checked out more frequently.

In 2006, the Texas Department of Transportation published a report on all the bridges in the state. To read that report in .pdf format, click here.

We also obtained an audit by the U.S. Department of Transportation that has some additional information on aging bridges in Texas. The document also contains a good graphic explanation of how bridges become structurally deficient. To read that report in .pdf format, click here.

You must have the latest version of the free Adobe Reader software to read .pdf documents. To download it, click here.

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