Repairing Iowa bridges - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Repairing Iowa bridges

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WATERLOO (KWWL) -

Across the state, engineers are addressing Iowa's structurally deficient bridges, ensuring drivers' safety while trying to keep costs down.

According to a report released this year, nearly 5,000 of Iowa's 24,000 bridges were deemed structurally deficient, meaning their deck or another part of their structure are in poor condition.

Just as Waterloo city engineers wrapped up work on the Fourth Street Bridge canopy, they're already working to ensure other city bridges are safe for drivers.

Keep in mind, half of that project was also paid for by the gaming commission.

The Hammond Avenue bridge near Hawkeye Community College is the oldest in the city, and it sees a lot of traffic.

That's why city engineers applied for state money, and they're hoping to start construction sometime in 2018.

"We probably won't actually replace it with a bridge. We will probably use multiple pipe culverts or concrete box culverts. They're much easier to maintain, and over the long haul they're the most cost effective," city engineer Eric Thorson said.

After the Hammond Avenue bridge, city engineers plan to focus efforts on the Park Avenue bridge in downtown Waterloo, but with a nearly $6 million price tag for city taxpayers on that reconstruction project, city council members will have to decide how to pay for the project before moving forward.

"For the most part, you can't really see the deterioration, it's below the water line. So, when we inspect that bridge periodically, I think it's every six years you have to have divers inspect those piers and see what the deterioration is," Thorson said.

Right now, consultants are wrapping up their evaluations to give engineers a better idea of what work needs to be done.

"Bridges are not cheap. They're very expensive, and we want to make sure we take care of them and keep them in good condition," Thorson said.

Thorson said he's anxious to see what consultants say about Park Avenue.

"We don't anticipate that it would have to be closed or anything like that, but we're always anxious to see the new ratings and what the consultant finds with that bridge, because it does have some issues," Thorson said.

Thorson said if the state approves money for city bridges, they'll typically pay 80 percent of the project, up to $1 million.

So, with the total estimated price tag of $7 million on the Park Avenue project, the state could pay $1 million, and Waterloo taxpayers would have to come up with the rest.

If you'd like to see where a bridge ranks in your area, you can click here, and then zoom in on the Iowa Department of Transportation's map.

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