Limited funds restricting bridge repairs - Wandtv.com, NewsCenter17, StormCenter17, Central Illinois News-

Limited funds restricting bridge repairs

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In a recent study one in 12 Illinois bridges are structurally deficient. That puts Illinois in the better half of the country.

While driving it may not be something you notice.

"You're looking at all the stuff basically underneath the bridge, the support structure," Macon County Engineer Bruce Bird said

But it's a problem bridge inspectors could see, like at a small bridge near Argenta. It's becoming more and more of a problem, maintaining bridges.

"The biggest problem is funding," Bird said.

And replacing a bridge is costly. Every two years engineers inspect them. Files and files of paperwork document a bridge's status.

"We can't keep up," Bird said. "We're closing them faster than we can replace them."

Barrels along the edge of the bridge are a low cost, short term solution to keep this bridge in service. They're meant to keep drivers away from the unsafe areas.

"If a bridge is open to traffic, even though it may be classified as structurally deficient, it has been verified that its safe to carry traffic," said Carl Puzey an Illinois Department of Transportation engineer.

Puzey showed WAND what he would inspect at the Stevens Creek bridge on 121 in Decatur.

"Structurally deficient is just a term that's used to describe a bridge that may have one of its major components in poor condition," Puzey explained.

The bridge in Decatur was inspected last summer. It's fairly new and in good shape, but over time it may come down to money in order to keep it that way.

Officials are using federal funds from the Illinois Jobs Now! program that granted about $14 billion to take care of roads and bridges. With those funds Illinois has repaired more than 1,100 bridges, but now that money is almost gone. Going forward officials say there will be a need for a new funding source.

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