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IDOT report: Most Wilmette bridges holding up
Friday, November 13, 2009 Pioneer Press by Kimberly Fornek
A report on Illinois bridges,
recently made available to the public, shows that most bridges in the Wilmette area are in satisfactory to good condition.
however, is the bridge on Happ
Road over the SkokieRiver,
just south of NewTrierHigh
School's Northfield Campus.
2008 inspection of the Happ Road
bridge determined it was in poor condition, with "advanced
deterioration," according to a report posted online by the Illinois
Department of Transportation. The Cook County Highway Department is responsible
for the bridge, which was last reconstructed in 1972.
rates the driving surface, or deck, of the bridge; the superstructure, or main
load-bearing beams, made of concrete and/or steel; and the substructure, the
vertical piers and footings. The Happ
Road bridge was marked "structurally
deficient," with all three sections of the bridge rated poor. There are
two levels below poor, namely "serious" and "critical,"
before temporary supports would be installed if the bridge was considered to be
at risk of "imminent failure."
County Highway Department has increased its inspection frequency of the bridge
from the federally mandated ... interval of 24 months to a full inspection
every six months," Highway Department Superintendent Rupert Graham Jr.,
stated in a memo.
agree that the bridge is a prime candidate for replacement, we do not believe
it to be unsafe or unable to carry legal truckloads at this time."
has not been scheduled, Graham stated. However, the county highway department
and IDOT determined, based on the load ratings performed by a licensed
structural engineer, that the bridge is safe to carry legal loads. A sign warns
the bridge's maximum weight limit is 37 tons.
3,650 vehicles a day drive over the Happ bridge.
28,200 vehicles cross over the North Branch of the Chicago
River on Lake Avenue.
The deck and superstructure of that bridge, which is about a quarter-mile east
of Wagner Road,
were found to be in "very good condition," and the substructure was
rated "good." Still, the bridge was marked "functionally
The term does
not reflect the safety of the structure, said Todd Ahrens, an IDOT bridge
planning engineer. The bridge, or a road, may be "functionally
obsolete" because design standards have changed since it was built. For
example, the standard width of the shoulders on a bridge or road is wider than
it was decades ago.
flow over a bridge also may have increased enough to classify the bridge as
have enough money to go fixing every structure that is functionally
obsolete," Ahrens said.
the condition of Illinois'
bridges were raised after the 2007 collapse of an interstate highway bridge in Minneapolis, which killed
13. Following that tragedy, IDOT stepped up bridge inspections and conducted
more thorough examinations of 37 bridges that were deteriorated to the point
that weight restrictions had been imposed.
IDOT Web site began to post specific information about all Illinois bridges.