Mo. to inspect 11 bridges with designs similar to collapsed Minnesota bridge

Thursday, August 2, 2007 | 12:14 p.m. CDT; updated 6:57 a.m. CDT, Monday, July 21, 2008

ST. LOUIS — Missouri will begin immediately inspecting 11 bridges that have a similar design as the one that collapsed Wednesday in Minnesota, a Transportation Department spokesman said Thursday.

Missouri has 10,240 bridges in its state highway system. Officials have identified one that is a deck arch truss bridge, the type that collapsed in Minnesota, Missouri Department of Transportation spokesman Jeff Briggs said.

That bridge carries traffic on Route 5 that spans the Osage Arm at Lake of the Ozarks. The bridge was built in the 1930s. A spokeswoman for Gov. Matt Blunt said transportation officials have no reason to believe it is unsafe, but will inspect the bridge today to confirm its safety.

Missouri has another 10 that are deck truss bridges with no arch at the bottom, Briggs said.

Of the bridges in Missouri’s state highway system, 1,613 are deemed “structurally deficient.”

“They’re worn out, old,” Briggs said.

They may have load limits or been narrowed to one lane of traffic because they can no longer carry a full load. Those most often are found in rural parts of the state, he said.

Another 1,223 bridges in Missouri are “functionally obsolete,” older bridges with low clearance, old or obsolete design, or perhaps not as straight and wide as they should be.

“They may be in good shape, but they’re obsolete in design,” Briggs said.

Briggs said all of them are “safe, but have things that need to be worked on.”

Blunt ordered the Transportation Department to begin immediate inspections of the state’s deck truss bridges.

“We are beginning a very close-up examination of the bridges today,” Briggs said. We’re looking for possible problems and we will fix them.”

Missouri has contacted Minnesota’s Department of Transportation to offer assistance, as well as the federal Highway Administration to determine a cause for the structure collapse.

“What we don’t know is what caused the bridge in Minnesota to collapse,” he said. “Once we do, that will give us more guidance what to look for.”

Divers in Minnesota searched today for more bodies entombed in cars, a day after the Interstate 35W bridge collapsed into the Mississippi River. The official death count was four this morning, but as many as 30 people are missing.

The bridge just northeast of downtown Minneapolis was jammed with rush-hour traffic when it suddenly broke into huge sections, pitching dozens of cars 60 feet into the water.

Federal officials were in the Twin Cities investigating the collapse.

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