Governor Chet Culver has ordered an "immediate review of the safety of Iowa bridges." Nancy Richardson, the director of the Iowa Department of Transportation, says there is one bridge in Iowa that’s similar in design to the I-35 bridge that collapsed Wednesday in Minneapolis.
"We are immediately having a full inspection of that bridge," she says. "If we identify any others (of similar design) we will do the same." The bridge being inspected is on old Highway 20, in Webster County. It’s in the Fort Dodge area and spans the Des Moines River.
There are nearly 4000 bridges in Iowa under the Iowa DOT’s jurisdiction, and Richardson’s staff is reviewing inspection records. "The ones that are identified or rated as structurally deficient and categorizing those by type because they’re all not the same. Some have very minor deficiencies," Richardson says.
How many bridges fall into the "structurally deficient" category? "I believe it’s right at 250 out of our roughly 4000 bridges on the state system and I think if you do the math, that’s about six percent of them," Richardson says. "Structurally deficient does not mean that they’re unsafe. If the bridge is unsafe for travel, then we close it."
In a prepared statement, Governor Culver said the "upsetting event" in Minneapolis has prompted every state to assess bridge safety. Culver added, though, that any Iowa bridge that fails to meet safety standards is closed to traffic, or restrictions are imposed forbidding heavy vehicles from using the bridge.