News 12 at 6 o'clock, August 2, 2007
AUGUSTA, Ga. - There are combined 23,700 bridges in Georgia and South Carolina.
The latest numbers from the U.S. Department of Transportation show there are 10 bridges in Richmond County that have been deemed "structurally deficient."
This doesn't mean that the bridges are unsafe, but it does mean that they can't carry the vehicle loads and speeds they were originally designed to carry.
Dennis Stroud is the Director of Public Service Maintenance in Richmond County. He's responsible for making sure that you're safe on county bridges and roads.
"Just like any other citizen, it concerns me. My family travels that bridge just like yours," he said.
Every bridge in the county is inspected annually by the State DOT. If anything's found wrong, Stroud fixes it.
"We'll go out there and make sure the cracks are sealed in it. Make sure that if they're any big holes in it, we repair that," he said. If the bridge can't be repaired, it's closed.
Steve Rossmoine owns a business right off of the 13th Street bridge. That means he crosses it all the time.
"Probably about four or five times a day," Rossmoine said. "it seems like a new bridge, but that bridge (in Minnesota) looked like a new bridge. So it makes you look at things different."
Georgia and South Carolina are among the top 16 states with the best bridges. Stroud says you should still be observant when you're crossing a bridge.
"Usually when you drive across a bridge if you start feeling a lot of bumps...usually that's a tell-tell sign for us."
A closer look at the bridges in Georgia and South Carolina shows there are 5600 bridges in Georgia that have been built in the past 20 years. 214 bridges in Georgia are 75 years old or older, and nine were built more than 100 years ago.
In South Carolina, just over 2000 bridges have been built in the past 20 years. 471 bridges are more than 75 years old, and 39 are more than 100 years old.
A bridge in our area that had passed an inspection collapsed one year later. The collapse happened in McCormick County in 2004. A logging truck driver died when the bridge fell into the Little River. The bridge had passed an inspection in 2003.
If you're ever trapped in your car, a tool called a Life Hammer could save your life. On one end it has a hammer to break the glass of your window or windshield. On the other end there's a blade to cut through seat belt straps.