Denton County has a lot of bridges that need a lot of work.
A recent report from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration lists thousands of North Texas bridges as needing repair, with a few hundred in Denton County listed in varied conditions.
“TxDOT inspects bridges annually and makes necessary repairs to keep bridges safe,” said Donna Huerta, a spokeswoman for the Texas Department of Transportation. “Repairs are ranked in order of urgency and are repaired accordingly. If a bridge is deemed dangerous, it is closed and addressed immediately, i.e., when hit by a vehicle.”
There are a couple of ways TxDOT classifies bridges that need work — structurally deficient or obsolete.
“Deficient” does not mean that the bridge is unsafe — just that it needs to be repaired as soon as the opportunity arises, Huerta said.
An “obsolete” classification means that TxDOT no longer uses that bridge design.
“And next time you have an opportunity to rebuild it, then you rebuild it. There are probably bridges all over the state marked obsolete because they were built so long ago,” Huerta said. “Like the ones in downtown Dallas — since we are doing the horseshoe project [along Interstate 30 and Interstate 35E], we are replacing 39 bridges downtown.”
According to the federal report, 164 bridges in Denton County were deemed inadequate, with a number of them listed as structurally deficient.
Bridges in the most serious need of repair are put at the top of the agency’s priority list. Work done to those bridges comes from the agency’s maintenance fund.
Conditions of bridges vary from structure to structure. Even if no hazards are listed, a bridge could be load-zoned so that heavy vehicles can no longer drive on it.
TxDOT officials inspect and monitor bridges regularly, and those deemed dangerous would be shut down. The agency maintains that none of the bridges on the Department of Transportation list meet that definition. The report simply identifies the bridges that need to be scheduled for repair work.
Huerta said none of the bridges identified in the Department of Transportation report are dangerous to drivers. If there were a clear danger, the bridge would be shut down and repaired before it could be reopened to traffic.
Repairs will come sooner than later for a handful of bridges, thanks to the Interstate 35E expansion project.
The Bonnie Brae Street bridge deck will be resurfaced, while the columns will be left alone. And the Union-Pacific Railroad bridge at U.S. Highway 377 and the I-35E bridge at Denton Drive northwest of State Highway 121 Business will be rehabbed to a better condition but not fully replaced, Huerta said.
BJ LEWIS can be reached at 940-566-6875 and via Twitter at @BjlewisDRC.
BRIDGES ON THE LIST
In the latest Federal Highway Administration report, 15 bridges were listed as structurally deficient in Denton County. In the specific location data provided by Texas Department of Transportation, eight bridges were listed. TxDOT spokeswoman Donna Huerta said the federal report data may not have been as recent as TxDOT inspections.
Both directions of Bonnie Brae Street bridge (1.6 miles northwest of U.S. Highway 377)
Both directions of the Union Pacific Railroad bridge (two-tenths of a mile east of U.S. 377)
The north Denton Drive Interstate 35E bridge (5.65 miles northwest of State Highway 121 Business)
The south Denton Drive I-35E bridge (6.4 miles northwest of State Highway 121 Business)
Kansas City Southern Railway railroad bridge (1.1 miles east of FM2281)
Hart’s Branch bridge (1.15 miles west of FM423)
SOURCE: Texas Department of Transportation