Missouri has the seventh largest highway system in America, with more than 34,000 miles of road and 10,000 bridges to take care of. MoDOT Assistant Chief Engineer Eric Schroeter said about 800 of those bridges are in poor condition.
“Once one gets into poor category, if it sinks below that we will close a bridge before it becomes unsafe. So poor is kind of the group that we’re looking at,” he said. “That is our one of our lowest ratings before bridge has to be closed. But we also have a large number that are in fair condition. So, we have to do a balance of working on doing some preventative maintenance in the fair condition to make sure they don’t become poor, and then also trying to replace ones that are poor.”
Schroeter said about a handful of bridges are closed due to condition.
“Just because one’s poor doesn’t mean that it’s not serviceable, right? It means that we’re having to do more work on it to maintain it,” said Schroeter. “Our crews are out there more often, things of that nature. So there’s lots of factors into prioritizing this. We also look at what part of the system they’re on. Some of these have a bigger impact, you know, so bridges on the interstate.”
In the next three years, he said the state plans to work on about 815 bridges, with a price tag of more than $1 billion. MoDOT works on more than 200 bridges each year.
“We’re able to gain a little ground but we also know with when you have a big system as old as ours, that each year some of the bridges just by age and traffic and all the other factors, are going to fall into the poor condition. So it’s a never ending cycle,” he said.
According to Schroeter, bridges under the state’s care are inspected roughly every two years.
“We have over 10,000 bridges, almost half of them are older than 50 years old. And 50 years is about the normal lifespan for a bridge that in Missouri has to go through winter salt and all the other things,” he said.
Several bridge upgrades are being made during this summer construction season. He encourages drivers to be extra careful in road and bridge work zones.
To view the road and bridge construction work happening this summer in Missouri, click here.
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