Tampa, Fla. Bridge Closed after Inspection

August 6, 2007

In Florida, Hillsborough County officials closed a lightly used, crumbling two-lane bridge over a suburban creek, days after the collapse of an interstate highway bridge in downtown Minneapolis.

The bridge was shut down Aug. 3 after engineers decided Wednesday, two hours before the Minnesota collapse, that it was “critically deficient,” said Bob Gordon, Hillsborough County’s director of public works.

“I know it sounds unbelievable because of the timing,” Gordon said.

Chunks of concrete from the 45-year-old bridge have fallen into the creek about 10 feet below, exposing steel reinforcement, Gordon said. He also noted a concern that salt water could weaken the steel and cause the concrete to break off.

Engineers estimated it would cost $118,000 to repair the bridge that handles about 575 cars a day. However, since the bridge is slated for replacement in 2010, county commissioners could decide to keep the bridge closed until a new one is built.

The announcement came as regional transportation officials sought to assure motorists of the safety of older bridges, including high-traffic spans in the Tampa and St. Petersburg area.

Robert Robertson, an engineer at Florida’s Department of Transportation, said earlier last week that 276 bridges in the state are rated “structurally deficient.”

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