This follows the bridge fire & collapse in Atlanta last week.
Hanover, Md (KM) Crews from the Maryland Department of Transportation will be inspecting bridges all over the state. “Looking to see if we have any stored materials under there. And once we go from there, we really look and understand whether there’s a permit for someone store some materials, or there’s not a permit,” says State Highway Administrator Greg Slater. “Trying to get to the bottom of what it is, and whether there are any safety implications to having those materials there.”
This follows last week’s fire and collapse of the Interstate 85 bridge in Atlanta, Georgia. Slater says polyethylene pipe was stored under that span. He says it’s a :”rubberized kind of material” used around wire to protect it. “It just so happen to be that was the kind of material in spools that got very hot when it burned,” Slater says.
He says the crews will be looking under the bridges to see if there are any flammable material stored. “We don’t routinely store materials under our bridges. But there are instances where we have construction staging areas, or maybe we have issued a permit to another entity to do some work and they have may have stored materials. So it’s just a matter of kind of following that, understanding what materials are there and moving from there,” Slater says.
The state owns about 2,564 bridges. MDOT estimates the inspection process will take about three to four weeks. “And then moving forward, looking at our policy to make sure that type of conduit material is never stored, whether it’s in a staging area or not, as well as making that part of our routine bridge inspection program,” says Slater.
Despite what happened in Atlanta, Slater assures motorists that Maryland’s bridges are safe. “I stand behind our bridge program 100%,” he says. “We have one of the best in the country. We have an excellent team here. They’re prepared to deal with anything that comes across our way. We want to make sure we put safety first, and then make sure we get everything out and inspect it, make sure we don’t have any challenges there, and keep everybody safe.”
By Kevin McManus