Eighty-four bridges deemed "structurally deficient"

Could a bridge collapse happen in Hawaii?

Published  6:28 PM HST May 24, 2013

You probably drive over several bridges every day without thinking about things like inspections. But a major collapse like the one in Washington can be an eye opener everywhere.

"It's highly unlikely that something like that would happen," says Caroline Sluyter, Department of transportation spokesperson.

The Department of Transportation says Hawaii has 1,165 total bridges. Just three of those are similar to the I-5 Bridge that went down in Washington.
"We do keep an eye on that and that's why it's important that we keep up to date with our inspections and maintenance," says Sluyter.

The D.O.T inspects Hawaii bridges every two years. Currently all are up to date, but that doesn't mean all are in good shape. Hawaii has 298 bridges that are over 75-years-old. Another 84 bridges are classified as structurally deficient.

"Structurally deficient doesn't really mean that it's in immediate danger but we can do things like lighten the loads," says Sluyter.

That's what the D.O.T did to the Karsten Thot Bridge. Deemed structurally deficient, the D.O.T had to reduce the allowable load and restrict oversized vehicles.

"That's why it became an emergency project because when the inspectors got in there and saw what was really going on, they realized this is something that needed to be, have immediate attention," says Sluyter.

Maintenance crews currently have three bridge projects. Two on the neighbor islands and one on North Nimitz highway. The Honolulu slip cover project began this month to repair a bridge built in 1952 that eroded over the years from sea water.

Seven more projects including one in Makaha and the Waiahole stream bridge replacement are in the D.O.T's immediate pipeline, but they need to find money to start the repairs.

Do you want to print this page now?