KALAMAZOO, Mich. — Michigan road officials said trucks hit bridges more often than one would think after officials in Washington D.C. investigating a pedestrian bridge collapse that left several people injured on June 23, 2021.
The aerial footage showed part of the bridge lying on the road and trapping several vehicles underneath the debris. Officials believed a truck may have struck the bridge which was rated in "poor" condition before the collapse.
"Bridge hits are somewhat frequent but bridge hits that cause a sudden catastrophic collapse, that is not," said Matt Chynoweth, a chief bridge engineer with MDOT.
City and state data showed most of the bridges in West Michigan were in good or fair condition. The Michigan Department of Transportation said it's a regular occurrence for a truck that's too tall to hit the bottom of bridge.
Chynoweth said there are routes for larger trucks to take to avoid bridges too low for big trucks to safely get under.
The transportation department inspects bridges that are in good condition every two years. Bridges listed in poor condition, like the one that collapsed in Washington D.C., get checked more frequently Chynoweth said.
"People should not have to worry about when they cross over or under a bridge. If the bridge is open it’s safe," he said.
The Michigan Department of Transportation partnered with Western Michigan University to research materials that would expand the life and strength of bridge infrastructure.
"We are evaluating them under different exposure conditions similar to Michigan exposure. So far we’ve seen really good performance,” Upul Attanayake, an associate professor at Western, said.
MDOT officials said funding has been the biggest issue. They said they would need about $2 billion to get all state-owned bridges up to good or fair condition.
To track the status of bridges, visit the MDOT Michigan Bridges Conditions website.