Bridge accident prompts concern

Published 4:59 am Monday, August 6, 2007

By By Lisa Tindell – news reporter
Escambia County does not have any bridges of the type that collapsed in Minnesota last week, but it does have some listed as &#8220structually deficient.”
But even that is not cause for alarm, county engineer Bill Bridges said.
At least five people died in the Minneapolis incident Wednesday, and at least eight more are missing. About 100 people were injured.
The Minnesota bridge had been classified as &#8220structually deficient” in recent years, a term that is not uncommon, Bridges said. But that term does not mean the bridges are in imminent danger, he said.
With an average cost of $350,000, replacing bridges is a costly undertaking, Bridges said.
The 16 bridges on the structurally deficient list for Escambia County are located mostly in rural areas where traffic is limited.
Two bridges in the Brewton area are located on County Road 55 just north of the Brewton Municipal Airport and on off County Road 55 crossing Dixon Mill Creek. Three bridges have made the list in the Atmore area: one crossing Brushy Creek near the Pleasant Hill community; Bell Creek bride near McCullough and over Sizemore Creek near the Robinsonville community. In the Flomaton area, the bridge on County Road 25 near the Wahl community is on the county's list.
The Alabama Department of Transportation has issued a list of bridges across the state that are listed as being structurally deficient. The list shows 5,687 in the ALDOT system with 240 being classified as structurally deficient.
The term &#8220structurally deficient” is used to describe bridges that are eligible for replacement funds, according to a report from ALDOT. The classification does not mean the bridges are unsafe for travel. Bridges that are deemed unsafe are either load restricted to a safe level or closed.
Three bridges in the ALDOT system are constructed in the same manner as the collapsed bridge in Minnesota. The locations of the bridges are over the Tallapoosa River in the city of Tallassee in Elmore County; over the Coosa River in Chilton County; and over the Tennessee River in the cities of Sheffield and Florence in Colbert and Lauderdale counties.
ALDOT officials report safety inspection are performed on all bridges every two years with certain bridges, such as ones that are posted for restricted loads being inspected more frequently.

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