Missouri to inspect all river bridges

| Friday, February 07, 2003

Missouri’s Department of Transportation said Wednesday it would inspect 57 river crossings statewide over the next three months. 

The action was prompted by a series of bridge closings due to structural problems and cracks.

“Safety is our ultimate concern, and motorists can rest assured that every bridge open on the state system is safe for travel,” MoDOT Director Henry Hungerbeeler said in a statement.

The Kansas City Star reported Feb. 5 that the state had closed the Missouri Highway 92 overpass over state Highway 45 north of Kansas City, and had cut two lanes of traffic on the eastbound side of the Blanchette Bridge, a structure across the state in the St. Louis area that carries I-70 over the Missouri River.

Inspectors found cracks in both bridges.

Cracks in several metal plates had earlier closed the suspension-style Paseo Bridge, which carries nearly 100,000 vehicles a day on I-35, I-29 and U.S. 71 over the Missouri River north of downtown Kansas City, MO. That bridge has since reopened.

The cracks in the Paseo Bridge raised one side of the structure 9 inches above the adjoining pavement at the expansion joint. After the first damaged plate was discovered, others were found by bridge inspectors and workers, local media outlets reported. Local television reports attributed the damage to the 50-year-old structure to a combination of cold weather and the corrosive effects of pigeon droppings.

Both of the latest bridge closings are expected to last a couple of weeks, The Star reported.  

The state has, in recent years, developed a reputation for bridge problems. However, MoDOT said the state’s 57 major river crossings are the most of any state. The department maintains 36 of those major river bridges, and conducts about 8,500 bridge inspections a year on the state’s total number of 10,000 bridges.

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