Tipping Point: Chicago bridges breaking, costing millions - KMSP-TV

Tipping Point: Chicago bridges breaking, costing millions

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

The cold and snow this winter have caused lots of headaches.

Here's one more.

Experts said Chicago's bridges and overpasses will deteriorate even faster than in the past, damaging the city's economy and costing millions.

The Morgan Street bridge over the Eisenhower Expressway is just one of seven bridges getting rebuilt by the state this winter.

Total cost for all the bridges? About a $1 million dollars.

The city said it'll be rebuilding 26 bridges over the next decade, signs of an infrastructure crisis that's been creeping up on us for years.

"A lot of this stuff has been in place a really long time, and it's just time to upgrade it and fix it," Metropolitan Planning Council member, Peter Skosey, said.

Peter Skosey of the Metropolitan Planning Council compares bridges to the state's pension crisis. It's time to pay up.

"Infrastructure is expensive. and it's one of those things that we would defer paying on until some point in the future where it's either crumbling down or gotten to the point where you absolutely can't defer it anymore," Skosey said.

One way to view these bridges is to look at them as concrete and steel baby boomers. Most of them were built in the fifties, or early sixties, and they're now really starting to show their age.

A recent report found that among 26,514 bridges in Illinois about 2,300, or one in every twelve, were structurally deficient.

You can locate those bridges using an interactive map, offered by Transportation for America.

The data's from 2012 so some of the bridges have been repaired.

Also, being "structurally deficient" doesn't mean they're dangerous, yet.

"They're not going to fall down tomorrow, but they are in desperate need of repair. the average life span of a bridge is fifty years old and the average age of these bridges is forty in the state of Illinois," said John Bryan of the Illinois Road and Builders Transportation Association.

This winter hasn't helped.

Chunks of concrete have occasionally fallen from bridges in recent years, but IIT bridge expert Gongkang Fu said heavy doses of salt and moisture will cause more crumbling, which needs to be repaired soon.

"If you fix them earlier, you don't need to spend too much money. If you wait longer, you will have to spend lot more money," Fu said.

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