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Some Michigan Bridges Critical, Others to Be Re-Inspected

Thursday, August 2, 2007   (0 Comments)
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link: Some Michigan Bridges Critical, Others to Be Re-Inspected

Michigan bridges are reaching a crossroads. According to the Michigan Department of Transportation, 200 bridges across the state are critical, meaning they need immediate repairs.

Each structure is inspected every two years, but some require some extra attention.

"Here in Michigan we have our own critical needs."

Keith Ledbetter of the Michigan Infrastructure and Transportation Association says these bridges need repair, but there's a minor problem.

"We just don't have the money available," Ledbetter said. "About 1 in 6 of those bridges is not scheduled for repair within the next 5 years due to lack of money."

Ledbetter is hoping to tragedy in Minnesota will be a wake up call to the legislature. In fact, on Thursday lawmakers ordered the re-inspection of four bridges in Michigan. All are similar in style to the one that collapsed in Minnesota.

The Ocquoec River bridge in Cheboygan, M-55 over the Pine River in Manistee, and two others in the Upper Peninsula will be checked again despite being inspected already once this year.

MSU Engineering Professor Venkatesh Kodur says it's better to air on the side of caution. He says most structures were built about 50 years ago and are do for a makeover.

"When they're that old you need routine inspections to make sure they continue to perform at expected levels."

Professor Kodur and others at MSU are currently developing bridge censors to read their activity at all times.

By putting monitors onto the bridges you can access what's going on inside the bridges.

And that information, once gathered in a computer, could be critical to preventing similar tragedies from occurring in Michigan.

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