The Missouri Department of Transportation completed designs for permanent repairs to a crack found in a bridge near Boonville today.
District Bridge Engineer Alan Trampe said crews found a crack on Mar. 16 in one of the steel beams under one lane of the bridge. Trampe said the crack was roughly three-inches long.
After crews found the crack, MoDOT shut down one westbound lane of traffic on Interstate 70 due to bridge repairs. According to 2013 data, about 12,000 vehicles travel over the bridge each day and cracks can increase quickly once they form, Trampe said. Therefore, Trampe said crews made fixing the bridge a high priority.
Crews completed a temporary repair around 3 p.m. on March 17, Trampe said.
This temporary repair was a reinforcement placed underneath the bridge by Lamine River, and traffic resumed to normal levels before plans for a permanent repair go into effect.
“We have received the details from Bridge Division, and now we are going to work it into our plans,” Trampe said. “When we get the steel plates fabricated, then we’ll go out there, and we will put those on the bridge.”
State Bridge Engineer Dennis Heckman said getting the steel will take time, and he expects the new steel parts to take about a week to arrive.
“There’s probably only three or four companies in the state that can make the type of steel that we need, Heckman said.”
Heckman said he expects crews to begin the permanent fix in seven to 10 days. Although there is no completed estimate for the cost of repairs, Heckman said he expects costs to be less than $5,000.
By 2017, MoDOT’s construction budget will fall to $325 million, and MoDOT said it needs $485 million annually to keep Missouri’s roads and bridges in current condition.
However, Trampe said a lack of money to repair bridges did not cause this crack in the roughly 50-year-old bridge. Trampe said normal road usage eventually causes cracks like this one.
In the future, Trampe and Heckman said they are concerned about repairing bridges with fewer funds.
“When bridges get bad enough so that they can’t be fixed, the best solution is to replace them, Trampe said. “That is when it is going to get a little tougher to keep up with the bridges that are in need of replacement or need repairs.”
MoDOT currently maintains over 10,000 bridges and said 600 of them are in poor or serious condition. This leaves repairs and monitoring roads up to the crews, like the one that found the crack in the bridge near Boonville.
“Especially as the bridges get older and older, we expect to see more problems like this, but if a bridge is not safe to be open, we will close it,” Heckman said.
Despite future concerns, MoDOT bridge engineers expect this bridge issue to be done in the next few weeks.