KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Missouri Department of Transportation says it’s treading water to maintain bridges around the Show-Me State. Of the 10,400 bridges in Missouri, MoDOT says 2,000 are structurally deficient and functionally obsolete.
MoDOT says it has about 5,000 bridges that are at least 50 years old and another 1,600 are at least 75 years old. The Broadway Bridge, which connects Kansas City to the Northland, was built in 1954. A MoDOT engineer says the 60-year-old bridge handles 60,000 vehicles every day and it needs to be replaced.
“It’s getting some real rust and deterioration,” engineer Brian Kidwell said.
MoDOT says it will cost $200 million to replace the Broadway Bridge and $5 billion to replace all of Missouri’s deficient bridges.
“They all need some type of repair. It can be the foundation, footings, the stuff that’s down on the ground. It could be the deck itself, it could be the suspension beams, the stuff that carries the load,” Kidwell explained.
Jysha Brewer says she’s scared when she drives over bridges.
“They look like they’re going to fall eventually. You can tell they’re going to fall, it’s scary looking,” she said.
“If the tops are not good the bottoms are probably eroding away also with rusted beams,” another driver, Brenda George said.
MoDOT says despite 2,000 bridges being structurally deficient, meaning not able to handle heavy loads, and functionally obsolete, meaning inadequate shoulders, the department says the bridges are safe as long as drivers adhere to vehicle weight limits. If a bridge is open, it’s safe according to MoDOT.
Kidwell says bridges are typically inspected every two years unless it has a known problem, then it’s inspected more frequently. The Kansas Department of Transportation says it has 20,000 bridges and 19 percent are structurally deficient. KDOT says it plans on spending $10 million to improve or replace some of its deficient bridges.