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Last updated 12:58AM ET
March 7, 2021
Governor Orders Alabama Bridge Inspections
(APR - Alabama Public Radio ) - State highway officials conducted safety inspections Friday ordered by Gov. Bob Riley on three river bridges with designs similar to the span that collapsed into the Mississippi River in Minnesota.

The bridges - located over the Tallapoosa River in Tallassee, the Coosa River in Chilton County and the Tennessee River in Sheffield and Florence - aren't exactly like the failed bridge in Minneapolis, and state officials said they consider them safe.

But the governor ordered the inspections because the bridges all have what is called a deck truss design like the Minnesota bridge. On each, the roadway rests upon a steel frame held aloft by concrete supports.

The Department of Transportation said the reviews could take through the weekend.

The inspection held up traffic but was welcomed in Tallassee, where city and county leaders previously petitioned the state for a second bridge to supplement the aging Alabama 14 span that connects the city's east and west sides.

"If anything ever happened to that bridge, people on the east side would really be cut off from medical care and everything," said Barbara Garnett, the city clerk.

The bridge was last inspected in May, according to the state.

The bridges in Tallassee and Chilton County are among 240 state-owned bridges considered structurally deficient by the state transportation agency.

Statewide, the Federal Highway Administration classifies about 2,100 of Alabama's nearly 16,000 bridges as being structurally deficient, the same ranking given the bridge that collapsed into the Mississippi River in Minnesota. The designation means a bridge does not meet all standards, but officials say it does not necessarily mean a span is unsafe for vehicles.

Jim Richardson, an associate professor of civil engineering at the University of Alabama, said a major difference in the bridges in Alabama and Minnesota is that Alabama rarely has ice and snow that require salting of roadways on bridges.

"That's very corrosive to a steel bridge," Richardson said.
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