ALDOT inspects Edmund Pettus Bridge

Published 12:00 am Saturday, April 26, 2008

Staff report

A crew from the Alabama Department of Transportation will be in Selma for the next week or so to inspect the Edmund Pettus Bridge.

ALDOT and similar entities around the country have taken a more proactive approach to bridge safety after the I-35W highway bridge over the Mississippi River in Minneapolis collapsed in August of last year. The rush hour collapse killed six people and injured almost 30 others.

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Safety inspections are performed on all bridges in the state every two years. Certain bridges, such as ones that are posted for restricted loads are inspected more frequently, according to officials at the state Department of Transportation.

Bridge inspections are performed by certified inspectors. A certified inspector has five years of qualifying experience and has passed a national bridge safety inspection course. ALDOT has 90 certified inspectors on staff, and about half of them perform bridge inspections every day.

In August 2007, the Research and Innovative Technology Administration of the federal Bureau of Transportation said the state has 15,882 bridges with 1,899 structurally deficient and 2,159 functionally obsolete.

In 2005, the most recent date available, the American Society of Civil Engineers Bridge Report Card noted, &8220;As of 2003, 27.1 percent of the nation&8217;s bridges were structurally deficient or functionally obsolete, an improvement from 28.5 percent in 2000. In fact, over the past 12 years, the number of bridge deficiencies has steadily declined from 34.6 percent in 1992 to 27 percent in 2003.&8221;

The bridge that collapsed in Minnesota last year was a deck truss bridge, meaning a truss bridge where the roadway deck is built on top of the supporting tresses. ALDOT says it owns three deck truss bridges: SR-14 over the Tallapoosa River, Tallassee in Elmore County; SR-22 over the Coosa River in Chilton County and U.S. 43 over the Tennessee River in Sheffield and Florence in Colbert and Lauderdale counties.