Saturday, August 4, 2007

Tarrant Co. Bridges Ruled Structurally Deficient - backlog of structurally deficient bridges in need of repair has become a national crisis.

Robert Riggs - CBS News 11 - Aug. 3, 2005
(CBS 11 News) FORT WORTH The CBS 11 Investigators have learned the locations of all structurally deficient bridges in Tarrant County.

The Texas Department of Transportation refused to release the information, citing Homeland Security limitations, but the information is freely available through the Federal Highway Administration.

Click here to see a list of Tarrant County bridges that are structurally deficient according to the Federal Highway Administration.

Many of the bridges cited in Tarrant County cross major highway arteries including:

The east and westbound lanes of the Highway 183 bridges over Loop 820

The bridge where the northbound lane of Interstate-35W crosses over Highway 121

The west frontage road of Highway 360 over Interstate-30

Geoffrey Orsak, Dean of Engineering at SMU, says the backlog of structurally deficient bridges in need of repair has become a national crisis.

Orsak says "Just like any of us at home, we often want to defer maintenance on whether is the dishwasher or the toilet and got and buy that new TV. And the same thing happens with our infrastructure. It's just not that sexy to spend money on maintenance."

Friday, state inspectors from the Fort Worth District of the Texas Department of Transportation started checking out bridges in a nine county area. They focused on steel arched bridges like the one where Lancaster Avenue crosses over a branch of the Trinity River east of downtown Fort Worth. It's similar to the one that collapsed in Minneapolis.

Inspector Rocky Armendariz hammered and listened for a hollow sound that could signal a weak foundation. "We have a feel for how bad or how serious a problem might be getting. It gives us a good feel," says Armendariz. "We know our bridges."

The Lancaster Avenue bridge was once listed on the structurally deficient list but it was rehabilitated nine years ago. Inspections are not foolproof. Minnesota was ranked as the second best bridge testing state in the nation, yet it was the scene of this week's deadly collapse.

A 2001 study by the U.S. Department of Transportation found inspections were all over the map. Sixty-percent of the inspectors tested did not correctly identify cracks in test bridges.

Read story view video © CBS Broadcasting Inc

Bureau of Transportation Annual Report Transportation Statistics Dec. 2006

RELATED STORY: Dozens of N. Texas Bridges Structurally Deficient

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