Inspectors checking safety of South Mississippi bridges

By Steve Phillips - bio | email

D'IBERVILLE, MS  (WLOX) -  Drivers faced traffic delays on the I-110 bridge Tuesday, for safety's sake.

That draw bridge over Biloxi Bay is undergoing its annual inspection.

Several bridges in South Mississippi will be getting an M-DOT inspection in the next few weeks.

Bridge inspectors spent the day using a special boom truck that gives them a bird's eye view of the girders, beams and bolts beneath the I-110.

Inspectors prepared to be lowered beneath the I-110.

As a growing line of traffic eases by, inspectors are lifted skyward by a specialty truck called the UB-60.

"It will reach under the bridge 60 feet. And it allows you to get into places that you normally couldn't. And it makes it a lot easier for inspectors to look at what they need to," said M-DOT bridge inspection engineer, Robert Scheeler.

The extended steel arm maneuvers the inspectors into perfect position beneath the draw bridge.

Once in place, their trained eyes search for any irregularities that could compromise safety.

"They'll look for cracks, try and see if there are any cracks. They'll look at welds, make sure the welds are in good condition. They'll look at the paint, make sure they don't have any rust problems, make sure the paint is in good condition. They look for every detail you can imagine on the bridge," said Kelly Castleberry, the gulf coast regional engineer for M-DOT.

More than 40,000 vehicles a day travel the I-110 bridge. The M-DOT inspection makes certain this bridge and others are strong enough to carry the traffic loads.

"Typically bridges are on a 24 months inspection sequence. Except bridges that are posted. If you have a posted bridge with a weight limit, those are every 12months. And then what we call critical infrastructure, those would be your interstates such as I-110, Highway 90, Interstate 59. Those are on a 12 month schedule as well," says Castleberry.

Castleberry says you can't underestimate the importance of these bridge inspections.  One significant problem left unchecked, could have devastating consequences.

"Most people remember the accident they had up in the Minnesota area on that bridge. We've always had a bridge inspection team down here. And they make sure these bridges are inspected so everything stays safe," he says.

Drivers who use the I-110 bridge can anticipate more delays Wednesday as the inspection continues.

The outside northbound lane will be closed in the morning from six until eleven. The shoulder on the southbound side will be closed in the afternoon.

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