Several Bridges in Eau Claire County Structurally Deficient

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Several bridges in Eau Claire are deemed structurally deficient or functionally obsolete. Still, the department of transportation says that's no cause for panic, it won't collapse, it simply needs repairs to bring it up to standards.

"To do a quality bridge inspection most bridge inspectors will tell you you have to almost get within touching distance of just about every element on that bridge," highway commissioner Tom Walther said.

Walther says, under federal and state law, any bridge longer than 20 feet must be inspected at least every two years. The most recent inspections were completed in October of 2006.

He says, during an inspection, bridges are assigned a rating from one to 100, with 100 being brand new and perfectly sound.

Any bridge with a sufficiency rating below 50 is eligible for federal replacement.

Walther says of the 120 locally owned bridges in Eau Claire County, just five have a rating under 50, and two of those will be replaced this fall.

Walther says he believes the 35W bridge in Eau Claire was a truss type bridge.

"On these fracture critical bridges such as many of these trusses are, if God forbid something happens and one of those elements breaks, there's no redundancy, it's coming down and it's coming down fast," he said.

He says while here in our area, most bridges are not truss type, there are several.

One on county trunk D northeast of Fall Creek and another on state trunk highway 27 north of Augusta.

Walther says the collapse in Minnesota has called attention to the importance of bridge inspections and says while it can be very costly to examine every inch of a bridge, public safety depends on it.

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