TxDOT Goes From Fixing Roads To Underwater Inspection

There's a team of specialists you might see around lakes and streams over the next few months, looking very intently at the bridges you drive across.

The state is mandated to inspect every single bridge in Texas, even those crossing the murkiest creek. As the sun bakes the shore, these divers get ready to hit the water.

The mission: safety and security.

"We just go and look at the foundations and we just look that the foundations are firmly set, but also looking at the overall condition of the bridge," says Alan Kowalik, a TxDOT supervisor.

The few dozen bridges set for inspection in East Texas are part of a statewide mandate of underwater, very thorough, inspections.  What they look for is  'scour', which is erosion around the column base. Plus any deficiencies that might be on the columns.

In most of Lake Palestine, their boat did not have any trouble making it to the bridge. But in some smaller creeks and streams in the State of Texas, the drivers have to go through more than just a few obstacles.

"From alligators who won't leave you alone, to sharks who won't leave you alone, from all kinds of things. We've found cars and all kinds of things on the bottom," says diver Bruce Sims.

Even more danger comes from careless people who use the bridge as their dumping ground, and not just for trash.

"There are a lot of cables there, and farmers will throw barbed wire off,"

These bridges spanning Lake Palestine are young, as bridges go, so no problems are expected.

And Texas as a whole, they say, is in good shape. But still this exercise, is peace of mind.

Reported by Morgan Palmer. morganpalmer@kltv.com