The Woodward News

Local News

August 7, 2012

Bridges good, but some need work

Woodward, Okla. — On Monday Woodward County Commissioners received a fairly positive report on recent bridge inspections throughout the county.

However, the commissioners did learn that there are some repairs needed on a number of bridges in each of their districts.

"When you're talking about bridge inspections, there's always bad news," said Donnie Head, a manager with Circuit Engineering District #8 (CED8).  "But it's not very bad in Woodward County.   You're awful lucky to have good bridges."

In fact, of the 131 county bridges that were recently inspected throughout the county, less than 30 percent were found to need some type of repair or maintenance.

The following is a breakdown by district.

• District 1 - 47 bridges inspected,13 in need of repairs

• District 2 - 55 bridges inspected, 19 in need of repairs

• District 3 - 29 bridges inspected, 5 in need of repairs

Of the 37 bridges that were listed as needing some attention, Head said they mostly required "just minor repairs."

These minor issues range from replacing bridge end markers to filling in dirt along bridge abutments to putting chip and seal overlay on the bridge decks.  Some repair recommendations don't even have anything to do with the structure of the bridge itself, but merely entail trimming nearby trees or clearing brush and debris from under or around the bridge.

There were only 3 bridges in all that were marked as needing attention within a specified time frame of 6 months.   This included one District 1 bridge that needs some welding work done to the webs at one of the pier splices.  The other 2 involved overhead railroad crossings in District 1 and District 2 which simply need advance warning signs advising of bridge height, which was less than 14 feet in both cases.

The commissioners each met one-on-one with Head to discuss the bridges within their respective districts to better determine what the priority of repairs should be.

In addition to these individual conferences, Head also informed the board as a whole that inspections had discovered 5 bridges in District 1 and a sixth bridge in District 3, which had posted load signs that weren't necessary.

"These are bridges that are posted that do not have to be. You can take the postings down or leave them up if you want," he said.  "Because they are (rated for) 23 tons or above, and any bridge 23 tons or above do not require load posting signs."

As to why the bridges might have signs posting certain load restrictions, Head said, "they may have been posted to keep heavier traffic off, or the road was posted so the bridges are posted too."

Aside from acknowledging Head's bridge inspection reports, the county commissioners also approved invoices totaling $26,200 for payment for the inspections, which averaged out to $200 per bridge.

However, Head told commissioners that this year's inspections were completely paid for through state and federal funds.

Typically, federal Bridge Replacement (BR) funds pay for 80 percent of inspection costs, leaving counties to pay the remaining 20 percent, he said.

But "there was a state fund to pay for the 20 percent this go around," Head said.  This saved the county over $5,000 in expenses.

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