(KFVS) - Do you feel safe when you travel over bridges in the Heartland?
We listened to your comments and set out to see if the structures you travel are secure, if they are they in need of repairs and if there are plans for improvements.
"It is just my worst fear of what it would do to our town," said Michelle Callihan as she stood near the bridge of the Scott City interchange.
It's a bridge she has traveled over most of her life. She said she feels it's badly in need of repair.
"The main thing is where it's located near the school," Callihan said. "As you can see there are pillars showing and there's rebar showing."
She worries what would happen if a train hit it.
"I just think this needs to be looked at because it's of high concern to me," she said. "It is a fear factor because of where it's at, next to the school."
Heartland News took Callihan's concerns and others to the Missouri Department of Transportation and learned the bridge is scheduled for replacement in 2018. Meanwhile, it's regularly inspected.
"If a bridge is not safe we are going to close it," said Assistant District Engineer Matt Seiler.
He said he knows people are concerned at a time when a recent review shows Missouri has a high number of bridges rated structurally deficient. In 2006, a Federal Highway Administration report showed 19 percent of Missouri bridges fell into that category.
"That means there are issues that need to be fixed," Seiler said. "Those issues are not critical, they are not going to causes a bridge to fall down."
Seiler said they continue to take steps to reduce that number.
"We would like to fix them all it's just an issue of money," Seiler said.
He took us to this heavily traveled overpass on Route Y, a connector between Jackson and Cape Girardeau. Seiler said the bridge is safe, but a priority. He said it now ranks about a three or four on a scale of nine.
Improvements are set for January.
"It will look just like a new bridge and that should improve it's rating," Seiler said.
Meanwhile, MoDOT said they hear the same concerns from the public as our viewers told us: one lane bridges, and aging structures in rural area.
According to MoDOT representatives, they are aware one lane bridges impact our farming community. Widening one lane bridges is important to the organization, according to officials.
They say they encourage people to get involved in the department's On the Move program. They are taking comments from the public as they work to do what they can, with the funding available, and improve safety overall.
"They may be structurally sound, but they really make people uncomfortable and that safety factor comes into play," Seiler said.
MoDOT said the bridges are safe to travel, otherwise they would be closed immediately.
Right now, 60 percent of the state's 10,000 bridges need work, according to reports.
"Our bridges are deteriorating they're getting worse," said Engineer Mark Shelton. "We work to make as much progress as we can with as much funding as we have."
"The bottom line is we have tough inspection processes and we will close a bridge before we allow the public to travel over if it's not safe," Shelton continued.
In Illinois, the Department of Transportation told us they have a detailed inspection program, and more than 1,200 state and local bridges have been repaired since 2009. According to Paris Ervin of IDOT, 92 percent of their bridges rank in good condition.
In Kentucky, funding was approved this month to repair 14 bridges across the state.
For more information on Missouri bridges, you can click one of these links:
Paris Ervin, IDOT representative, had this to say on Illinois bridges:
"We have the third largest bridge inventory in the nation and we rank well in overall bridge condition. Currently, 92 percent of Illinois bridges are in acceptable or better condition.
There are roughly 26,000 bridges in the state of Illinois, 8,000 of those are on the state system.
Governor Quinn has made investing in bridges a key priority for Illinois. Through Governor Quinn's $31 billion Illinois Jobs Now! capital program $14 billion is dedicated for transportation needs including roads and bridges. As a result more than 1,240 state and local bridges have been rebuilt or repaired. Since IJN! was enacted in June 2009, IDOT has awarded more than 5,900 projects, creating and supporting 175,000 jobs.
As far as our inspection process goes, IDOT has a thorough inspection program that includes numerous types of inspections. The type of inspections a bridge receives and the frequency depends on the type of bridge and its condition.
The standard inspection interval for routine inspections is 24 months; however, bridges that are in less than fair condition receive additional inspections to ensure safety of the traveling public.
Bridges that are in good condition may qualify for a longer interval up to 48 months if they meet specific criteria.
The Illinois Department of Transportation inspects bridges on a routine basis to ensure safety to the motoring public. Safety is our number one priority- if a bridge is deemed unsafe - it will immediately be closed to the public."