Report: Bridges looking bad in the Tri-States

Photo demonstrates compromised bridge / KHQA file photo

You may drive across a bridge each day to go to work and not even know that it is crumbling and in need of repair.

The average Joe doesn't get out of the car and take a closer look before they drive over each time.

Of the almost 300 bridges in Hancock County, 18 percent of them fall into the category of structurally deficient.

This is what that classification means, according to Hancock County engineer Elgin Berry.

"A structurally deficient bridge typically needs maintenance and repair and eventual rehabilitation or replacement to address deficiencies. To remain open to traffic, structurally deficient bridges are often posted with reduced weight limits that restrict the gross weight of vehicles using the bridges. If unsafe conditions are identified during a physical inspection, the structure will be closed."

So are these 58 bridges safe? The answer is yes, according to the Hancock County Highway Department.

If not, they're closed.

The highway department inspects county and township bridges at least every two years.

When bridges need to be replaced, Illinois law sets certain priorities.

For instance, buses on which school buses travel get top priority.

And new bridges are built to withstand heavier loads of up to about 60 tons.

Many bridges in Illinois are regularly traveled, yet they are falling into disrepair.

NBC reports that 1 in 12 Illinois bridges is crumbling. Click here for that full report.

These figures begin to hit home when you look at Hancock County figures, where out of 298 bridges, 53 of them have been deemed "structurally deficient." See the following table (Source - Transportation for America):

County Engineer, Elgin Berry, tells KHQA that Hancock County has 179 miles of highway and a total of 298 bridges, which includes bridges controlled by townships, county and the state of Illinois.

Editor's Note: KHQA recognizes that data provided by the Hancock County Engineer on March 28th shows 58, not 53 bridges deemed structurally deficient.

While it is allowed for the county to place weight limit restrictions on some of the 58 bridges, other bridges are considered to be functionally obselete. That means that the bridge is an older bridge that cannot accomodate modern cars, trucks and farm equipment.

You can join the ongoing conversation on our Facebook page here, or feel free to leave comments about bridges in your area below in the comments thread.