Troubled bridges make for rough roads

Published 09/17 2013 12:59PM

Updated 09/17 2013 01:15PM

SPRINGFIELD -- The safety of bridges in the state is coming under question. Published reports show almost 200 don't meet standards. WCIA-3's Ashley Michels has more.

Some of the worst of the worst in the state have major structural damage. IDOT says it's on top of it, but can only move as fast as its budget allows.

"There are some areas that really need some good work done to them."

Joanne Carretto is talking about Illinois' roads. She says she drives the state's highways pretty often and isn't a fan of their upkeep.

"You don't even need to have a 'Welcome to Illinois' sign, because you know the difference in the roads immediately."

That's why Carretto says she isn't surprised to hear some bridges don't make the grade. New numbers show almost 200 are, by definition, "in critical need of repair" and another 2,000 are in "less than acceptable condition."

"It makes me wonder, it's like, 'oh gee, am I going to be the one that ends up in the Des Plaines River?'"

IDOT says it's doing everything possible to make sure that doesn't happen, but with a thin budget, it can't fix all the bridges right away. It's leaving drivers a little uneasy.

"Do you do it on 55 because 55 is a more traveled road and take those bridges, or if it's a road that's not as well traveled, but it's in worse shape, does that one get a top priority?"

IDOT says drivers shouldn't worry. Every bridge is inspected at least every two years and those in poor shape, more often. But, transportation experts warn there's more to the story.

"We're in a crisis mode right now. This is only going to get worse."

More dollars toward bridge repair means fewer dollars toward road repair.

"There's just not enough money for IDOT to do what needs to be done."

IDOT says safety is its number one concern. If a bridge is that bad, it will close it. So, if the bridge is open for business, IDOT says there shouldn't be anything to worry about.

An area bridge on St. Mary's Road, one mile north of Villa Grove, has been under construction for six months. An engineer who helps inspect state bridges says those in the area are under a watchful eye. While it's in need of repair, St. Mary's Bridge has never been in danger of collapsing.

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