Teri Finneman, Published August 01 2008
Bridge needs get attentionBridge inspection awareness is “extremely heightened” in the year since the Minneapolis Interstate 35W bridge collapse, said Clay County Engineer David Overbo.
As the nation tries to move forward with its transportation issues, here’s a look back at the past year in this area:
After the bridge collapse, the North Dakota Department of Transportation conducted a special inspection of about 890 structurally deficient and fracture critical bridges.
Structurally deficient means there are elements of the bridge that need to be monitored and/or repaired, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation.
Fracture critical bridges could collapse if one major component fails.
Because of the special inspections, a few small county bridges were closed, said state bridge engineer Terry Udland. A bridge in Churchs Ferry was also repaired.
The state also reviewed its inspection process to ensure it was satisfactory.
North Dakota has about 5,000 bridges, which are inspected on a two-year cycle, Udland said.
He believes the state has a “very effective” bridge inspection program and that residents should feel safe driving on bridges.
“If there was any issue in our minds that created any safety issue at all, we’d close the bridge,” Udland said. “Put it this way: I let my children drive on all of them.”
NDDOT Assistant District Engineer Kevin Gorder also said the state has a good inspection program. Any bridges believed to be critical are checked annually, he said.
In Fargo, construction crews are now working on the 12th Avenue North bridge near North Dakota State University. The bridge is undergoing a two-year, $11.8 million project to widen the bridge from two lanes to four.
The bridge was already scheduled for renovation before the Minneapolis bridge collapse, Gorder said.
The 12th Avenue North bridge had a superstructure rating of 4, or poor condition, and topped the DOT’s to-do list in Fargo.
Future bridge construction projects in Cass County include replacing the Sheyenne River bridge on Main Avenue in West Fargo and the bridge across Interstate 94 at the Casselton exit.
Clay County’s Overbo said that of the county’s estimated 150 bridges, those most in need of attention are already scheduled for improvements.
- County Highway 19 north of Glyndon. The bridge is set to be replaced in about three years.
- County Highway 11 northeast of Dilworth. Bid opening for that bridge project is set for next week.
- County Road 91 northeast of Dilworth. The bridge is set to be replaced in four years.
- County Highway 36 near Georgetown. Additional maintenance measures are needed. Overbo hopes they get done this fall.
- An Oakport Township bridge. Further evaluation of the load postings is recommended. This will likely be done this fall, too.
MnDoT is doing a good job working with the counties to resolve bridge issues, Overbo said.
“I think they’re being a little bit more critical on how things are being done, so there’s improved factors of safety,” he said.
In Moorhead, City Engineer Bob Zimmerman said the Center Avenue bridge needs a redesign.
MnDOT said the priority of replacing the bridge is higher than the city originally thought, Zimmerman said.
Zimmerman said discussions regarding the bridge will begin soon.
Forum reporter Kim Winnegge contributed to this report
Readers can reach Forum reporter Teri Finneman at (701) 241-5560