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County Engineer Aims to Reduce Washington’s Structurally Deficient Bridges

Posted: Tuesday, February 28th, 2017 at 6:28 am
Author: Joe Cerwinske

The State of Iowa has a bridge problem, and Washington County is no safe haven from it. Iowa is the state with the highest number of bridges that are structurally deficient in the country. Washington County Engineer Jacob Thorius is planning several bridge repair projects this year and for years to come to combat the issue. He says there are 40 bridges in Washington County currently deemed structurally deficient, which means a bridge can no longer carry the load it was originally designed for. Additionally, there are many bridges deemed functionally obsolete, meaning a bridge no longer meets design standards in line with current practices. Thorius says a good example of that is when a bridge is only wide enough to allow one vehicle to cross at a time.

There are several contributing factors to the amount of structurally deficient or functionally obsolete bridges in the state, as Thorius explains, “We’re laid out on a one mile grid system. Nearly every mile or so there’s a road, and so you’ve got that many more crossings over a stream, so that creates that many more bridges. Then over time, due to a lack of some funding, and even just the ability to do the construction, allows more bridges to become structurally deficient or functionally obsolete.” Thorius says there are at least three bridge deck overlay projects planned this year, and several small projects as well. He reminds people to obey all weight postings on bridges, and asks them to be patient as road and bridge construction progress.