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Bridge Safety Top Priority for WVDOH

By: Mollie Lair Email
By: Mollie Lair Email

"All the open bridges are safe for everybody to use," says West Virginia Department of Highways Bridge Inspector Clifford Essig.

Wood County is awash with bridges. But just how safe are those tresses holding you above water?

According to the West Virginia Department of Highways, there's no reason to worry.

"We look at the deterioration that has occurred since the last inspection and we rate those bridges. Those bridges are routinely rated. We have computer programs that allow us to analyze what size trucks are allowed if there's any problem with a bridge with deterioration this program would alert us to that, as well as the bridge inspectors from the report," says Essig.

The bridge department has two main areas; bridge inspection and evaluation and bridge maintenance and replacement. Inspection and maintenance teams are out every day.

Most bridges are inspected every two years, but the timeline varies depending on the condition of the bridge.

"There's never enough funding to do all the maintenance that we need on bridges. That's why we post them, or close them. It would be good to have more funding, at the state and federal level to assist in making our bridges better."

However, that federal assistance is slim. Around 66,000 bridges across the country are deemed structurally deficient. A testament to the aging infrastructure and growing need for repairs.

"Preventive maintenance is like painting your house and stuff and we do have programs, but that's also one of the things on cutbacks that gets cut back the most. You just try to keep the bridges open, but maybe the things that will preserve them later on we don't always have the funding or man power we need to do those type of things," says Essig.

He notes it's important truck drivers heed the weight limit signs posted on bridges. While one overweight load may not cause severe damage routinely traveling with excess weight over bridges can affect the structural integrity.

If you have any questions or concerns call the bridge department at 304-420-4674.


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