Number of critical condition bridges increases in Missouri

Number of critical condition bridges increases in Missouri.
Number of critical condition bridges increases in Missouri.

The number of Missouri’s critical-condition bridges continues to increase just two and a half years after the state finished the most intense bridge program in its history.

Since the last evaluation of bridge inspections, the quantity of bridges qualifying as critical as increase to 641. This is an additional 50 bridges compared to a year ago.

“When we completed the Safe & Sound Bridge Improvement Program in 2012, we stemmed the tide for a while,” Dennis Heckman, state bridge engineer, said. “But we knew that the curve would start going up again. Safe & Sound made a dent, however it did not repair or replace all of the state’s bad bridges. Now with a shrinking construction budget, the number of bad bridges is on the rise again.”

Missouri has a total of 10,376 bridges located on state highways. Of those, 209 are over 1,000 feet long.

“To get ahead of the game, we should be replacing more than 100 bridges per year,” Heckman said. “Instead, our funding levels are only allowing us to replace about 30. In 10 years, we’ll have about 1,500 bridges on the critical condition list.”

Drivers do not need to be afraid of driving on the bridges, as critical is not yet a safety issue.

“We aggressively inspect our bridges,” Heckman said. “When we discover a problem that is a safety issue, we close the bridge.”