Thursday, August 02, 2007
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Gov. Blagojevich orders immediate inspections of critical bridges following tragic Minnesota bridge collapse

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[August 02, 2007]  SPRINGFIELD -- Following the deadly bridge collapse Wednesday night in Minnesota, Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich on Thursday directed the Illinois Department of Transportation and the Illinois Tollway to immediately conduct additional inspections of critical bridges in Illinois. The governor also sent letters of condolence to both Minnesota Gov. Tom Pawlenty and Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak.

"Our hearts and prayers are with the victims and their families of this terrible disaster in Minnesota," Blagojevich said. "While we have a rigorous inspection system that ensures the safety of our bridges in Illinois, a tragedy like this demands that we step up our efforts and do everything in our power to guarantee the safety of our bridge network."

Bridge inspectors from IDOT and the Illinois Tollway will be examining bridges that are similar in design to the Minnesota bridge, are under construction or that carry high volumes over waterways.

Critical spans, including those crossing the Mississippi River and other major waterways, will be visually inspected Thursday, with more detailed inspections in coming days, using high-tech equipment. Visual inspectors will be looking for general structure alignment and anything out of the ordinary. The detailed inspections will assess beam deterioration, determine the condition of the connections, and identify cracks and anything that is out of alignment.

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"IDOT's first and foremost priority is always the safety of our bridges and roads," said Acting IDOT Secretary Milt Sees. "Our bridge inspectors are out there every day, using high-tech tools to assure the safety of almost 8,000 bridges across the state. We can assure the public that at the governor's direction, IDOT's team will be taking a detailed look at critical structures across the state."

"Inspection of bridges and infrastructure is part of our ongoing quality assurance and maintenance efforts at the tollway," said Brian McPartlin, Illinois Tollway executive director. "In fact, recently we've completely rebuilt the Markham Yard and the Cal-Sag bridges on the South Tri-State Tollway to replace aged infrastructure and expand capacity."

The Illinois Tollway has 545 bridges, with 53 that span lengths over 20 feet. The tollway has an active and aggressive maintenance schedule. These bridges are inspected every two years in accordance with the latest federal and state guidelines. The tollway does not have any bridges on the system that are similar to the steel truss bridge in Minnesota. In addition to the biennial inspections, the tollway also provides full-time inspection of all bridges under construction.

[Text from file received from the Illinois Office of Communication and Information]

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