After the latest round of bridge inspections, the number of bridges in critical need of attention has risen to 641 – 50 more than a year ago. State Bridge Engineer Dennis Heckman says that trend is likely to continue.
“When we completed the Safe & Sound Bridge Improvement Program in 2012, we stemmed the tide for a while,” he said. “But we knew that the curve would start going up again. Safe & Sound made a dent; however, it did not repair or replace all of the state’s bad bridges. Now, with a shrinking construction budget, the number of bad bridges is on the rise again.”
Missouri has 10,376 bridges on state highways, including 209 that are more than 1,000 feet long. While the Safe & Sound program replaced or repaired more than 800 bridges over four years, 50 to 100 fall into the “critical condition” category each year. Critical condition bridges are the state’s worst and, with continued deterioration, are just one or two steps from being closed.