MnDOT has closed the Highway 23-Division Street bridge after three gusset plates were found bulging.
The bridge is designed along the same vein as the ill-fated I-35W bridge. Shortly after the I-35W bridge collapsed, Gov. Pawlenty ordered bridges in the state inspected. A day later, inspectors looked at the bridge (photo above).
They looked at the cracks on the surface:
And the rust:
And determined that the bridge could stay open.
At a previous inspection in 2005, it was given a sufficiency rating of of 56.3 out of 100. Anything lower than 50 and a bridge is considered to be in need of replacement. After the inspection last August, the bridge rating was pegged at 57.3. The bridge was opened in 1959, eight years before the I-35W bridge.
But in January, the National Transportation Safety Board said the design of the bridges, or more specifically the gusset plates, was inadequate.
On Thursday, Jim Povich, an assistant district engineer for the Minnesota Department of Transportation, told the St. Cloud Times that the gusset plates were found distorted during a recent inspection.
“We decided to err on the side of safety,” Povich said.
In the wake of the I-35W bridge collapse, that seems to be exactly what Minnesotans want to hear, and the best way to restore confidence in the embattled agency.