Crossing Hazard: A Look Into Bridge Inspection In The Metro

Traveling across I-35W bridge in Minneapolis, Sadiya Sahal and her two year old daughter Hanah were on their way to visit relatives. They never made it, the bridge collapsed and it took them down with 11 other people too.

There are three bridges in Omaha that could face a collapse of their own. Steve Edloff is working hard to prevent that possibility.

"You can kinda see where you get a little hairline cracking here, and you see the white. Yes. That is effervescence that is bleeding through the deck. That is typical, normal," said Edloff. He is explaining what he is looking at on the 67th and Center bridge.

It's a newer bridge, but even this one will get a crack or two. Honestly, the little cracks he is pointing out aren't anything to worry about.

Bridges are inspected every two years; it's a federal law and there is no way around it. But there are some bridges that need to be inspected every year, they are called fracture critical bridges. The yearly inspection is necessary because if something goes wrong on these bridges the worst could happen.

26th and Q is one of those bridges. Graded on a percent scale, 26th and Q is at 21 percent out of 100 percent.

"It's also called a pin and hanger bridge. That is one of those, where if one of those let go like the Minnesota bridge, the whole thing will come down in one shot. That is one where one element fails and the whole bridge will fail," said Edloff.

Bridge and the word failure are never acceptable.

Along with 26th and Q, 42nd & D has two bridges also in the fracture critical category. The city of Omaha is well aware and they are already in the process of getting these bridges fixed.

"If you come below that sufficiency rating, that is basically a point in time you want to start looking at the funding, and getting ready to replace the bridge deck or replace the entire bridge itself," said Tim O'Bryan, Omaha Construction Engineer.

Each of these three bridges are waiting for final approvals so they can be replaced.

Nebraska has more than 3,873 bridges that are in that deficient category. That works out to be about one in four in the state are in need of repair.

To see these federal statistics, click the link below.

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