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Engineering Experts: Bridge Inspections Necessary for Safety

By: Pachatta Pope Email
By: Pachatta Pope Email

In the aftermath of the Minneapolis bridge collapse disaster, the obvious questions about other bridges' safety are being raised.

According to figures, Texas leads the nation in the number of bridges built with more than 50,000 currently spanning the state. Close to 2,500 of them can be found in the the ten-county Bryan District of the Texas Department of Transportation.

Chief Engineer Bryan Wood says every two years, all bridges are inspected on a rotating basis to ensure the public's safety.

"We look at the approach, the dirt on the approach," Wood said. "We look at the geometry of the bridge. We look at the condition of the railing, condition of the foundations."

Plus, bridges over water or that have its foundation in water are inspected every five years. In the case of a flood event, these bridges are given an additional inspection.

"They also look for shifts in the bridge," Wood said, "anything that might indicate there's movement of the bridge caused by that flood."

The bridge in Minneapolis was constructed in the 1960s with what structural engineer Rick Robertson says was more than likely a typical steel arch truss.

"Steel truss girded sections are made up of a lot of little pieces," Robertson said. "They're all connected together and they have to be connected by welding or bolting or riveting."

Robertson said each piece could hold a potential problem to the overall stability of the bridge. Whatever the cause, Robertson says it is crucial to the safety of American travel to find out what happen.

"We have a lot of these type structures out there today, we all want to know why this one came down and make sure we don't have the same problem again," Robertson said.


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