KLTV Finds Three "Intolerable" Bridges In A Half-Mile - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

8/08/07-Harrison County

KLTV Finds Three "Intolerable" Bridges In A Half-Mile

Last night, we told you a KLTV 7 Investigaition uncovered nearly 90 bridges in East Texas are labeled "basically intolerable."

That is, they are so old or in such disrepair that they just need to be rebuilt.  Coming up, we'll tell you how you can look up bridges that you and your family travel over.  Do they measure up?

We have more on one well-traveled roadway that has three bad bridges back-to-back-to-back.  

The rumble over the road is almost continuous.  Oil equipment, tractor trailers, and utility crews all heading from Marshall northwest travel over these three bridges.

This is State Highway 154 in Harrison County, and it's the three bridges over Little Cypress Bayou.  That data from the federal government say is a problem.

With a lot of the smaller county bridges and roads, the problem is "scour", where the erosion takes its toll over time.  The bridge over Lake Cypress Bayou is 75 years old and has the lowest ranking possible -- "basically intolerable."

According to the National Bridge Inventory.  These bridges were built in 1932, and according to the inventory have problems with their substructure -- the foundation.

"A bridge is something you take for granted. You don't ever think that one's going to collapse on you.  So yeah, it's a concern. It should be a major concern all over Texas." said one driver to KLTV 7. 

TxDOT Atlanta District Bridge Engineer Lance Simmons says all bridges are safe.

"We do have plans. We've been working on for a few years now to get the right-of-way bought," Simmons said.

For these bridges on Highway 154, he says re-construction is set for next year.  In the meantime, he says load limits should keep the bridge safe if they're followed.  

"There's not a structure that is not inspected every 24 months. Many are inspected more frequently than that.  Our maintenance section has a schedule where they make sure to go out and look at everything on a six-month basis," he says.

All over East Texas, the number of bridges deemed "basically intolerable" by the bridge inventory: 89.  The counties with the most?  Fifteen in Hopkins County in the northwest and 11 in Anderson County in the southwest.

"What kind of makes engineering such a challenge, and that's doing the best with [funds] we have," Simmons says.

The cost to fully replace these three bridges over Little Cypress Bayou is part of a project with a price tag of more than $10 million.

Morgan Palmer, Reporting morganpalmer@kltv.com

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