The state of Minnesota has around 19,500 bridges and according to state inspectors 103 of them had a worse rating than the 35W Bridge in Minneapolis. 1,141 bridges are rated as being structurally deficient. The rating system is not necessarily for the safety of the bridge but an indicator of when it will qualify for state and federal funding for replacement and repair.
Among these are 103 bridges that are also “fracture critical,” meaning they lack structural redundancies that prevent a total collapse if one section should fail. Along with the Lafayette, the list includes the landmark Stillwater Lift Bridge. Several of the spans have been or are in the process of being replaced, a procedure that is expensive, long and complicated.
As state and federal budgets tighten, the issue of repairing and replacing these bridges has become an important topic for policymakers, civil engineers and safety experts.
Of the 103 bridges over half of them have traffic of less than 100 cars a day. The government is taking a closer look at replacing bridges after the bridge collapse tragedy last week.