TxDOT Not Giving Specifics About Bridge Safety - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

8/2/07-Tyler

TxDOT Not Giving Specifics About Bridge Safety

66 bridges in 12 East Texas counties are considered structurally deficient, just like the one that collapsed in Minneapolis. 

It could be the one you cross on the way to work, or when you're taking your kids to school.  But you'll never know. 

TxDOT said it won't release the specific locations of weakened bridges, because it doesn't want terrorists to know where they are.

Chris Lippincott with TxDOT explains why.

"There are about 100 bridges statewide that are considered to be critical infrastructure, so they're exempted for homeland security reasons," Lippincott said.

But what about the more than 49,000 other bridges that run through this great state? TxDOT  said it won't release the status on those, because they want their inspectors to feel like they can be open and honest.

But for area motorists, like Claudia Jones, that's simply not a good enough reason.

"I would imagine we have a right to know," Jones said.

State Senator Kevin Eltife is not satisfied with the answer either.

"I think it is absurd.  I think if they have done a study of the bridges in Texas, particularly in my district, and they've ranked them as to their safety levels, the public should know.  Why don't we put all this out in the public, and let's have a debate on it," Senator Eltife said.

Representative Leo Berman had a different take on things. He said he takes TxDOT at it's word when it said the inspection process is working and that area bridges are safe.

"If they are obsolete or deficient they're going to inspect them more frequently.  And at some point they may even close them off until they are either repaired or replaced," said Representative Berman.

But when asked the question, "Don't you think on Tuesday the people in Minneapolis thought the I-35 bridge was safe?" Representative Berman said, "If I was in Minneapolis, I would have driven across that bridge thinking it was absolutely safe."

But as we all know now, something was terribly wrong with that bridge.

TxDOT insisted all Texas bridges are safe, in spite of the fact that more than 2100 bridges are listed as structurally deficient. It said inspections are done every two years, and three out of four Texas bridges are in good condition or better.

Lindsay Wilcox/Reporting: lwilcox@kltv.com

 

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