Tough questions: Safety concerns regarding structurally deficien - WNEM TV 5

Tough questions: Safety concerns regarding structurally deficient bridges

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(Source: WNEM) (Source: WNEM)

A massive hole opened on an overpass over I-75 this weekend. It led to an emergency shutdown of the overpass as crews work to repair it.

The Mackinaw Road overpass in Bay County was one of many bridges labeled as "structurally deficient" during an infrastructure study in 2015.

The need for repairs to the overpass were recognized, but not slated to begin for another two yeares.

"The thing is Mother Nature and with all of the freezing and thaw, the rain, it really deteriorated faster than what was anticipated," said Steve Katinhusk, bridge engineer for the Michigan Department of Transportation.

He said unfortunately this is one example of several bridges in the state labeled as structurally deficient.

"All of ours here in the Bay Region for the ones that we own are programmed for work so they have funding that is going to allocated for those," Katinhusk said.

TV5 asked Katinhusk what defined a bridge as structurally deficient.

"What that means is there are three parts to a bridge that received a rating. If the deck and superstructure or substructure units become poor, the deck is what the people drive on. The superstructure or beams are the footings, so when those are triggered to a poor rating that's when it becomes structurally deficient. But doesn't mean that it is unsafe to drive across," Katinhusk said.

He said a poor rating means the bridge needs work, but in many cases it can still be used and repairs to all of the problem spots ar in the works.

The Mackinaw overpass was slated to be repaired in 2019, but because of severe damage and the gaping hole it will be repaired a lot sooner.

"We do not take chances. When it's high risk like that it is better to shut things down, analyze it, get a second opinion and come up with a plan to fix it," Katinhusk said.

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