ST. PAUL, Minn.-Inspection of all bridges on state highways was completed this week, the Minnesota Department of Transportation announced.
Gov. Tim Pawlenty ordered the inspection program following the collapse of the Interstate 35W bridge in Minneapolis on Aug. 1.
Bridge inspectors from Mn/DOT, local governments and consulting firms examined more than 4,000 bridges during the five-month inspection period, which included 3875 bridges on the state trunk highway system and also 843 local bridges classified as structurally deficient.
Duane Hill, Mn/DOT’s manager of the inspection program, said the inspections revealed few major discoveries. He said that bridge inspectors and bridge engineers will use this information to assess bridge performance and plan maintenance work for 2008.
Inspectors reported 17 findings that resulted in closing six bridges, adding load or lane restrictions on six bridges and making repairs on five more structures.
That number equals less than one tenth of one percent of the inspected bridges.
Only two of the findings requiring immediate action involved state highway bridges.
A Highway 11 bridge in Kittson County was closed briefly until repairs were made on a beam that showed cracking.
In Morrison County, a bridge on Highway 10 near Little Falls was also closed briefly for repair after inspectors discovered damage to a beam apparently caused when it was hit by a truck following the bridge’s previous inspection.
Remaining bridges requiring immediate action are located on township roads, city streets, county roads and a road in a game preserve owned by the Department of Natural Resources.
Actions required included lowering weight limits, restricting traffic and making immediate repairs to some bridge components. Six local bridges were ordered closed.
Bridges are closed on the following roads: Norman County Road 3, Mountain Lake Township Road in Cottonwood County, Municipal Street 5 in Russell, State Game Preserve Road 222 in Wabasha County and Redwood Township Road 185 in Redwood County and Municipal Street 18 in the City of Carver.
Mn/DOT will resume its standard bridge inspection program next year. The agency inspects between one-half to two-thirds of state highway bridges each year.
Lt. Gov./Commissioner Carol Molnau said the second phase of the inspection program that focuses on practices and procedures during inspections is under way by PB Americas, Inc., an engineering firm, with the goal of completion by late winter/early spring.
The statewide inspection effort was done in cooperation with counties, cities and other local government units, Molnau said.
“The collaborative approach brought our bridge inspectors and managers together, creating a shared sense of purpose to improve bridge safety throughout the state,” she said
Molnau said completing the bridge inspections is an important first step in the bridge safety review process.
“Mn/DOT’s completion of the statewide inspections, analysis of the bridge inspection reports and the consultant’s findings will enable the department and local government units improve their inspection program and ensure safe use of all the state’s bridges,” Molnau said.
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