Environmental Group Lists Data on 313 Minn. Bridges Online

August 31, 2007

Data on 313 Minnesota bridges can be found online, thanks to the work of an environmental group that compiled information from state and federal sources.

The Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy organized the data and listed structural ratings for bridges on interstate highways, U.S. highways, and state trunk highways in Minnesota. Bridge’s owned by counties, cities, townships, utilities or railroads were not included.

Citizens need bridge information, especially after the Aug. 1 collapse of the Interstate 35W bridge, said Jim Erkel, MCEA land use and transportation director.

“We’re at a tipping point right now because of the bridge collapse,” he said. “By looking at maps and talking with their elected officials, people can influence whether a special legislative session takes place and what comes out of it in terms of additional funding for roads and bridges.”

Internet users can access the data through the group’s Web site, then look at a map to see whether a bridge is deficient. They can refer to a bridge’s ID number to learn about its year of construction, average daily traffic, most recent inspection date and structural status.

Lucy Kender, communications director for the Minnesota Department of Transportation, said citizens need to know the definitions of “structurally deficient” and “functionally obsolete.” She said those terms are government classifications and do not mean bridges are unsafe.

Kender also added that Minnesota has received high ratings nationally for its bridge maintenance.

Sen. Steve Murphy, DFL-Red Wing and chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee, said Minnesota has been shortchanging its transportation system for years.

“It’s taken us 30 years to get into this situation and it’ll take at least 10 years and a lot of hard work to get out of it,” he said.

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