Friday, December 18, 2015

Division Street Bridge Collapsed 100 Years Ago. How Are Our Bridges Today?

Photo courtesy of the Spokesman-Review
It was 100 years ago today when one of the deadliest accidents in Spokane history occurred. The Division Street Bridge collapsed into the icy Spokane River just after 6 a.m.when two streetcars were crossing it, dumping them into the water.

Five people died and about 14 others seriously injured.

An investigation showed that the bridge might have been damaged by debris from an earlier flood. However, the main cause of the collapse was declared to be metal fatigue.

A new concrete bridge was completed in 1917.

Which brings us to- how much better condition are our bridges in today? While they're nowhere near collapsing, of the 163 bridges listed in Spokane County's inventory, 15 are considered functionally obsolete (bridge can't support weight or traffic volumes of today's vehicles) and 11 rated structurally deficient (components such as the deck, superstructure or substructure are rated in poor condition). The Washington State Department of Transportation has 148 bridges in Spokane County with 35 rated functionally obsolete and nine structurally deficient. Of the City of Spokane's 44 bridges, three are functionally obsolete and one is structurally deficient.

Sounds scary right? It's not as bad as it sounds but also, why don't we just get them fixed? The same answer as to every other transportation question- there's just not enough money to go around. Bridges are very expensive to fix. In the coming years though, as our infrastructure continues to age, I think we will see a lot more bridges under construction as the alternative is to have them fall down.


Charles said...

Lets hope they get repaired before another collapse like the Division bridge.

SRTC Staff said...

Yep, would be good. Since the need has been identified, we can't ignore it a lot longer. The reassuring thing is that many of the local jurisdictions have been in the process of lining up funding for a while now. Like the Sullivan Road bridge for instance, took a while to get all the money lined up from several sources but they were determined and got it done.

About SRTC

SRTC is the federally designated Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) for Spokane County. Urbanized areas with populations exceeding 50,000 people are required to have an MPO. SRTC was formed to address the county's transportation planning needs. It provides coordination in planning between the public, cities, small towns, the county, the state, transit providers, and tribes.

SRTC offers services including transportation monitoring, transportation modeling, census information analysis, travel demand forecasting, historical traffic count analysis, geographic information systems, and trip generation rates.