Overall, the bridges in Brown, Coleman and McCulloch counties are in satisfactory condition.
Bryan Raschke, area engineer with the Texas Department of Transporta-tion’s Brownwood district office, said all of the bridges in the three counties of the area he is responsible for are — right now — above the 50-point rating that would classify them “structurally deficient.”
Raschke said the news of the bridge collapse in Minnesota Wednesday, killing at least four people, will likely make people more conscious of bridge safety, but bridge inspections are a constant in the state.
Annual bridge inspections are required for interstate, U.S. highway, state highway and farm-to market roads, Raschke said. Inspections of some county road bridges and some city street bridges are done at least every two years. The information from those inspections is reported to city councils and county commissioners.
Raschke said a check list of 100 criteria is followed for bridge inspections and everything from the substructure to the superstructure of the bridge is checked.
“It’s from the ground up,” Raschke said, “or actually from below the ground up.”
A point system of 1 to 100 is set up, and any bridge that only accumulates 50 or fewer points is considered structurally deficient, Raschke said.
But if a bridge is found structurally deficient, that may not necessarily mean it will be closed. First, the exact deficiencies will be determined, then a contract will be set usually within one to five years.
“Repairs will run between $100,000 to $20 million and so a priority schedule is determined,” Raschke said.
Brown County had one bridge replaced this year, Raschke said, and bridge replacements in the county are largely possible through a federal bridge replacement program, where federal grants are available for 80 percent of the cost, the state will pay 10 percent and the county will pay 10 percent. However, the county’s portion may be paid in kind by doing routine maintenance and itemizing the work done to show that the amount of work equals the amount of money for the county’s share of the replacement.