Report: Some Kentucky bridges 'structurally deficient' - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Report: Some Kentucky bridges 'structurally deficient'

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- The collapse of a major bridge outside of Seattle is raising concerns about infrastructure across the country. Indiana and Kentucky transportation officials, however, say there is no need to worry.

The 3rd Street ramp and the I-64 eastbound ramp in downtown Louisville are in poor shape. They are the two busiest 'structurally deficient' bridges in the state. But despite the numbers, transportation officials say there is no need to panic.

"Whenever a catastrophe like that happens then people start wondering, 'what about around here?'" said David Steele of the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet.

The National Transportation Safety Board called the bridge collapse in Washington Friday a warning to the rest of the nation. But the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet says motorists shouldn't worry about their safety.

"We're spending more money on bridges than we ever have and we're doing more thorough inspections than we ever have," said Steele.

Regardless, a number of Kentucky and Indiana bridges are deemed 'structurally deficient,' With some closer to home than you may think.

According to Transportation for America, nearly 150,000 motorists utilize the I-64 eastbound and 3rd Street ramps off River Road in downtown Louisville everyday. Most of them are probably unaware that they are actually traveling on structurally deficient bridges.

But David Steele says 'structurally deficient' just means that a bridge qualifies for replacement or rehab money.

In the case of the downtown Louisville ramps, they are considered structurally deficient due to the poor conditions of the deck. In the case of the 3rd Street ramp, there are also problems with the substructure. But officials assure this is not a safety hazard.

"The bridge is not in danger of falling down, it is just that the deck is in poor condition and it then becomes structurally deficient," said Steele.

Indiana, like Kentucky, inspects every bridge at least once every two years.

The Sherman Minton bridge in New Albany was a reminder that bridges need regular maintenance. It was shut down in 2011 due to cracks in two supporting beams.

INDOT tells WDRB that the incident is an example of their inspection policies at work. They were able to fix the problem before it became a major problem.

They also said they are avoiding catastrophes like that in Washington state by spending wisely.

"We're trying to maximize our investment in roads and bridges and keep our infrastructure in good condition as long as possible," said Will Wingfield of the Indiana Department of Transportation.

The 2011 study by Transportation for America listed ramps on the I-465 in Marion County as the two busiest structurally deficient bridges in Indiana. They are located in the southbound lane at Big Eagle Creek and northbound lanes at U.S. 136.

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