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St. Louis Bridge Flagged for Deterioration Before Crash

Thursday, August 2, 2018

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Vehicular impact caused a 2,700-pound chunk of concrete to fall from the Lindell-Union Bridge in Saint Louis last week, killing one and injuring the driver who hit the bridge. According to reports, the same span had been marked as requiring replacement the year prior.

According to the Associated Press, the concrete bridge railing that fell had been deteriorating prior to the incident. State officials have since released a 2017 report from the Missouri Department of Transportation that indicates that the underside of the bridge was “basically intolerable” and needed to be replaced.

Bridge Railing Collapse

On July 23, a woman crashed into the northwest corner of the bridge, later claiming that she lost control on a turn. The impact caused the chunk of concrete to fall, killing 58-year-old local businesswoman Janet Torrsi-Mokwa as she was driving under the bridge. The driver who crashed into the bridge was taken to a hospital with minor injuries.

Todd Waelterman, city director of operations, told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that the bridge is inspected annually, going on to note that there haven’t been “any blips in the reports that the bridge has any deficiencies.”

Bill Hannegan, a contractor who resides near the Lindell-Union Bridge, told the Post-Dispatch that he went to the scene and was surprised to find that there was no proof of steel rods that would have held the concrete railing in place. In his opinion, the railing would be “able to be pushed and it will fall over onto the expressway.”

Bridge Inspection

In 2016, the U.S. Department of Transportation reported that the bridge was structurally deficient and was in need of replacement. This kind of classification indicates that the load-bearing parts of the bridge have been damaged and are in need of rehabilitation, not that the bridge itself is unsafe.

The most recent inspections occurred in August 2017 and April 2018, according to a city spokesperson. Currently, the bridge is up for replacement, which could take up to a decade, according to Waelterman.

Inspection reports rated the bridge at a 3 on a scale that runs from 0 to 9, with the 3 being defined as "basically intolerable, requiring high priority for corrective action." The span’s under-clearance received a 2 rating. In 2016, inspectors noted excessive cracking on the bridge. According to television station KSDK, the bridge had received a “poor” rating in every annual inspection since 2015.

As of 2014, 33,500 vehicles crossed over the bridge daily. Replacing the bridge is slated to cost $6 million, and the state would require federal funding to help with the project.

According to Bridge Hunter, the Lindell-Union Bridge is a concrete rigid frame bridge that runs over MetroLink and Forest Park Parkway. The span was built in 1929 and modified in 1961.


Tagged categories: Accidents; Bridges; Department of Transportation (DOT); Government; Health & Safety; Health and safety; Infrastructure; Inspection; NA; North America

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