21 April 2024

A Bridge That Didn't Fall Down

Maybe that should be, "It didn't fall down yet." It will still be closed for months due to a crack that was found. Gunnison bridge failure means 300 mile detours, with no estimate for repairs, reopening

Inspectors don't yet know the extent of damage to a bridge on U.S. Highway 50, when repairs might begin or how long local residents will have to wait to regain use of this critical route between Gunnison and Montrose, transportation officials said on Friday morning.

300 miles is a long way for a detour. Even more problematic is the interuption to emergency services. It is a heavily used route for truck traffic in and through that area, but most of that can be rerouted easily.

A crack near the midpoint of the bridge, which was built in 1963, was first observed during an inspection last week. A more thorough inspection found the visible crack extended 3 to 4 inches, but ultrasonic testing on Thursday showed the crack extended through the steel.

At this point it isn't even clear when inspections will be complete, let alone what it will take to fix the bridge, or whether it will need replacing.


  1. Steel can be repaired, and in a short period of time. The process requires the stresses of traffic are removed, the repair is designed by a structural engineer, and non-destructive testing of the repair.
    Without specifying what structure member is cracked, and if it's from a design failure, it's fear mongering. The good thing is they're inspecting the bridge and taking care of problems.

    1. There are a lot of stories on this incident, and there is one - I don't think it is the one I linked - said it was a 3 inch crack in one of the main girders at the center span of the bridge.

      This bridge reminds me both of The I-40 Bridge (The Hernando de Soto Bridge) between Arkansas and Tennessee. That had a crack of several inches and was closed for months for repair.

      It also, unfortunately, reminds me of the bridge in Minneapolis that collapsed because a deformation that had been noted for years was ignored.

      Politicians don't like infrastructure, unless it is something flashy like California's bullet train to nowhere. You can 't do campaign commercials about see how I'm repairing this 60 year old bridge that you take for granted, and oh by the way the repair is going to make your commute a nightmare for the next 6 months.

    2. After the bridge collapse in Minneapolis, a whole raft of bridges in Minnesota and the Midwest were reinforced due undersized gusset plates.

  2. At least the flaws were found before a disaster. With the level of incompetence these days and the lack of funds devoted to the necessary as opposed to social BS it's a wonder ANY bridges get inspected properly.


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