RICHMOND, Va. – Whether you need them to get you to and from work or just play, chances are you’ve driven on one of the 2,500 bridges in the Richmond district.
Eight of the top 25 most traveled structurally deficient bridges in the Commonwealth are in Richmond and Chesterfield County.
That’s according to a study released in January by the Federal Highway Administration, which examined data collected from the 2015 National Bridge Inventory ASCII files.
According to the study, 183 of those area bridges have been deemed deficient.
Of the 13,884 bridges in the state, 1,063, or 8%, are classified as structurally deficient. This means one or more of the key bridge elements, such as the deck, superstructure or substructure, is considered to be in “poor” or worse condition.
Of that total, 2,517 bridges are classified as functionally obsolete.
Bridges, some 50 years old, flagged by the Federal Highway Administration for issues like corrosion, rust and deterioration.
“Just because it’s deficient, doesn’t mean it’s unsafe and we are addressing the issues on them,” said Richmond District Bridge Engineer, Gary Martin.
Martin is accelerating that effort. The first priority will be high traffic bridges included in the commonwealth’s top 25 “most traveled bridges in structurally deficient condition” category.
“When you see this and you see the word deficient by it what comes to mind?” WTVR Reporter Laura French asked.
“Basically we need to make some improvements for driver’s safety,” answered motorist Andrea Tate. “I’m more concerned about the structure of the roads themselves, like major potholes and uneven pavement and you do get that a lot on the bridges --that’s somewhat worrisome,” added Tate.
“We do have a fairly large number of interstate bridges that are deficient right now, but we have a plan to remove the deficiency from every single one of them,” said Martin.
The Interstate 95 bridge over Route 608 in Chesterfield topped the list in our area coming in second. It’s in need of a super structure replacement, but with a price tag of $11 million dollars VDOT said it will just have to keep the problem areas patched for now.
“It’s got some spalling (breaking) in the deck and a little structure deterioration. We can keep that one repaired until we get the funding to do the super structure replacement,” said Martin. “These are not things that are going to cause the bridge to collapse or anything like that it’s just work that needs to be done. It’s almost like replacing a couple boards in a deck.”
One bridge has already been repaired and removed from the deficient list since the study was released in January. VDOT hopes to drive that number down in the next two years one repair at a time.
“We take safety of the public very seriously that’s our number one priority we’re not going to leave anything unsafe out there,” said Martin. “My family and I drive over these all the time and I have as big of stake in it as anybody else does to keep these structures in good condition.”
“It’s nice to know that they will be improved and safer for us and nothing falls apart,” said motorist Peter Uitvlucht.