The Ottumwa Courier

Local News

June 28, 2013

Declining bridges to go under the microscope


Jefferson Street Bridge is "functionally obsolete," according to the report, meaning its design elements are no longer used today. But this classification has no bearing on the bridge's structural sufficiency, it noted. The bridge was built in 1936 and averages 6,800 cars per day.

"Jefferson Street gets a lot of routine maintenance and has had a couple different decks on it now," Seals said. "Part of that classification on that bridge is the construction type they used."

The Jefferson Street Bridge has two spans, he said, which means "if we lose one, the bridge collapses."

On the other hand, Market Street Bridge was ranked as "structurally deficient," meaning engineers found a major defect in its support structure or deck.

This isn't news to the city. The bridge was derated from 40 to 13 tons several years ago, so loaded firetrucks must find alternate routes over the river. The bridge was built in 1972 and also averages 6,800 cars per day.

"Most decks, you shoot for 40 years and if you get that done, then you've done a wonderful job," Seals said. "[The Market Street Bridge] deck has deteriorated as it aged, as salts go through, they deteriorate the deck and the lamination underneath begins popping off, there's exposed steel and they start losing strength.

But that's the standard process as any bridge ages, he said.

South Ward Street Bridge is also defined as structurally deficient, and the city is watching its deterioration rate closely, he said. The bridge was built in 1950 and averages 210 cars per day.

Though Wildwood Park Bridge was not included in the Transportation for America report, Seals said it's also deteriorating and will need to be replaced in a few years.

Insufficient funding is the No. 1 problem when it comes to the nation's deteriorating infrastructure, he said.

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