Rusted cables get a $30 million facelift
When the Minnesota Bridge collapsed last year, bridges all over the country, including the Hale Boggs Bridge that spans the Mississippi River in Luling, took the spotlight. Residents began to express concerns and ask questions about the safety of the bridge.
In December 2008, a Department of Transportation spokesman says engineers will begin changing out the cables on the bridge, due to corrosion on the outer coating. The cables keep the bridge suspended in midair.
"The Hale Boggs Bridge is 24-years-old and is in need of regular maintenance and upkeep," Amber Hebert, public information officer for the Louisiana Department of Transportation, said. "In 2008, we will begin changing the cables out on the mainstay bridge because of corrosion to the outer cables, not because the bridge is unsafe."
The replacement cables will cost $30 million, but will be funded by the federal government.
"90 percent of the costs to replace the cables will be federally funded," Hebert said. "There's no actual problem with the cables themselves, the problem is more or less with the coating. After doing some inspection on the bridge, engineers noticed the coating on the cables was starting to crack."
Hebert says that after speaking with a bridge consultant about the coating issue, it was recommended that the cables be changed.
The National Bridge Inspection System requires states to collect inspection reports at least once every two years on all public bridges longer than 20 feet. States use a scale of 1 to 9, with 6 meaning satisfactory, 5 fair, 4 poor, 3 serious, 2 critical and 1 forcing immediate closure.
The Interstate 310 Bridge is only 24 years old, but corrosion on girders above the roadway also earned it a "serious" rating, even though the structure below the roadway had few problems.
Any bridge rated below satisfactory, according to the rating system, moves from biannual to annual inspections.
Inspections increase every six months if a bridge’s structural condition is serious.
Mark Lambert, spokesman for the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development, said the Hale Boggs Bridge has suffered some deck deterioration because it’s a cable bridge that sways. He said the state plans to replace the cables on the Hale Boggs in the next few years.
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