SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — The tragedy of Florida’s deadly pedestrian bridge collapse on Thursday raises questions about how bridges are built and maintained.
The City of Springfield has $500,000 every four years to do repairs on its bridges. Public Works says the city tries to keep up with the maintenance and preserve them a much as possible.
Springfield has six pedestrian bridges – one on South Campbell, two along Sunset. Two on Kearney Street, and the Jefferson Footbridge on Commercial.
“Most of them are steel beam construction, concrete decks on them,” said Kirk Juranas, the assistant director of Public Works. “The two on Kearney Street provide for children at the elementary school to be able to without having to be in traffic.”
The Mustang Walkway near Wiliams Elementary was built in 2011 and this is the newest pedestrian bridge in Springfield.
“The one at Sunset, pretty close to the mall, that one has weathering steel, which allows us to not have to repaint the bridge,” Juranas said.
Juranas says the pedestrian bridges are inspected every other year by Great Rivers Engineering, a private engineering firm contracted by the city. Those inspections last about a day.
“It’s a visual inspection, they don’t touch every member,” he said. “They look for areas of concern over for cracking or deterioration from the paint, maybe some spalling on the concrete section.”
He says when these inspectors see something of concern that’s when the city will go into greater depth and looking at any possible issues. That’s what happened with the Jefferson FootBridge on Commercial which is now closed. It’s the oldest walkway in the city, built in 1902, but the city didn’t take it over until 1998.
“That was very close inspection took many weeks,” Juaranas said.
He says the City tries to preserve its bridges as much as possible.
“We’ll sand them, but we won’t salt them. Salt is very corrosive the steel, our bridges are in much better shape because of that.”
He says right now, the most inspections at the other bridges have shown, is the need for a fresh paint job or minor corrosion.
“We don’t have any issues that are related to safety with our pedestrian bridges,” he said.
The pedestrian bridges in Springfield were last inspected in the spring of 2017. The next inspection will be next year.
There are 63 vehicle bridges in Springfield. Those are inspected by the Department of Transportation in the fall of every even year. The last inspection, according to Juranas, was in 2016.