YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – According to a report by the Ohio Department of Transportation, there are hundreds of bridges in the tri-county area that are considered structurally deficient.
ODOT uses a bridge rating scale of 0 through 9, with 9 being the best and 0 being the worst. Any bridge with a rating of 4 or less is deemed structurally deficient. In Mahoning County, there are 131 bridges in that category. In Trumbull County, there are 141 and in Columbiana County, there are 86.
And those numbers only reflect bridges maintained and inspected by the state. Each political division keeps its own list.
Cities have lists, counties have lists, and they all have sub-standard bridges noted by the Federal Highway Administration.
Mahoning County bridge engineer Randy Partika said the county has 40 structurally deficient bridges identified by the Federal Highway Administration.
Partika inspects each bridge in Mahoning County every year, keeping a a close eye on those 40 bridges.
“We do an analysis of the bridges and see if it can still carry a legal load. Of the 40 bridges in Mahoning County, 38 can still carry a legal load,” he said.
Ray Repko of MS Consultants said that means the bridge can support its own weight. But he said the vehicle load also must be taken into consideration.
Six bridges are being replaced as part of ODOT’s I-80 widening project. One bridge in Girard carries 60,000 vehicles a day and is considered “deficient” by federal and state standards. But just because a bridge is deemed structurally deficient does not mean it is not safe.
“You’ve got several steps before you get to the point where you say the bridge needs to be closed,” Repko said.
At least one local bridge has been deemed unsafe. The Olive Street Bridge in Niles has been closed since 2009.
Click here to see state-owned bridge ratings for Mahoning and Trumbull counties.