Colorado bridges pegged for inspection |

Colorado bridges pegged for inspection

Colleen Slevin
The Associated Press
Aspen, CO Colorado

DENVER ” Colorado bridges similar to the one that collapsed in Minnesota last year will be inspected because of new findings pointing to a design flaw.

States have been advised to check similar truss bridges, starting with those that have seen an increase in load, Colorado Department of Transportation spokeswoman Stacey Stegman said Wednesday. She said that can happen when more asphalt is put down on a bridge or another lane is added.

On Tuesday, the National Transportation Safety Board said that steel plates connecting beams on the Minneapolis bridge were too thin and fractured and called that the “critical factor” in the collapse that killed 13 people.

Stegman said there are 126 truss bridges in Colorado but most of them are owned by cities and counties and aren’t heavily traveled. Thirty-three of them are pedestrian bridges, including a bridge over the South Platte River near downtown Denver.

The state only owns 28 of the 126 ” accounting for less than 1 percent of its 3,700 bridges ” and Stegman said the state usually doesn’t increase loads on such bridges. One example of a truss bridge is the one near the Hanging Lake rest area in Glenwood Canyon, but Stegman said previous work on the bridge decreased its load.

She said the department was checking to see which of its bridges have seen their load increase so that inspectors could check their plates. Counties and cities also need to check to see which of their bridges have been changed, she said.

Mark Leonard, a bridge engineer for the Colorado transportation department, told state lawmakers about the planned inspections during a briefing on the state’s bridges. He said it was “extremely rare” for plates to be undersized on a truss bridge.

Later he said the lack of funding to replace aging bridges is a bigger concern in Colorado, pointing to the Interstate 70 overpass near the Denver Coliseum. It’s one of 116 state bridges rated as poor and will cost $800 million to replace. However, he said the department may have to do a $20 million repair until more money is available to replace it.

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