Colorado program IDs ailing bridges
DENVER – The state has determined that roughly 3 percent of nearly 3,800 bridges across Colorado should be replaced, but doesn’t have the money to do it.Colorado Department of Transportation spokesman Stacey Stegman said the bridges aren’t considered unsafe, but “are getting to the point where we’re pretty much holding them together.” The state might eventually have to restrict traffic and vehicle weights until the bridges can be replaced.A big concern is a viaduct supporting Interstate 70 in Denver that is the main route to Denver International Airport and a major trucking corridor. The stretch isn’t on the list of the state’s top 20 worst bridges, but the bridge’s internal corrosion and the traffic volume – about 200,000 vehicles daily – place it at the top of the transportation department’s concerns.Stegman said replacing the bridge could cost up to $700 million. “That’s almost our entire annual budget,” she said.In all, the transportation department has determined that 110 of the 3,757 bridges it maintains need to be replaced. Another 375 need rehabilitation, meaning they need repairs or new parts.The state has replaced expansion joints, decks and girders on the I-70 viaduct and other bridges to keep them safe while it looks at longer-term solutions and figures out where to get the money.The department spends about $30 million each year on major bridge replacements and repairs and that each bridge is inspected every other year. There are no plans to change the state’s safety and inspection program as a result of the deadly bridge collapse in Minneapolis, Stegman said.”We’re definitely going to ask, ‘Is there something else we can do?”‘ Stegman asked. “But we’re pretty confident that our program is very thorough.”Last summer, the state replaced a bridge on the south edge of downtown Denver that was in such disrepair that chunks of concrete tumbled off it. That bridge rated only a 2 for structural soundness on a scale of 100.The state’s inspections were beefed up following a 2004 accident on I-70 west of Denver that killed a family of three. A 40-ton girder sagged onto the highway, shearing off the top of an SUV and killing a man, his pregnant wife and their 2-year-old daughter.The girder was part of a project to expand a bridge over I-70 about 10 miles west of Denver.The National Transportation Safety Board last year said sloppy construction work and oversight caused the accident. The state changed a number of its procedures, including requiring daily inspections of girders by contractors and state officials.
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