- Associated Press - Monday, May 26, 2014

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) - The state of New Mexico is overhauling 10 structurally deficient bridges this year and has plans to replace three dozen bridges next year.

The Santa Fe New Mexican reports (https://bit.ly/1paYc5u) that 55 bridges out of almost 3,000 state-owned bridges are due for preventive maintenance, such as replacing deck joints, deck sealing and painting.

Nearly 300 more bridges around New Mexico were listed as structurally deficient in the 2013 National Bridge Inventory, and it will cost millions of dollars to fix them all.

Many are more than half-a-century old or have to carry a lot more vehicle traffic than they did when they were built. Like the rest of the country, New Mexico is faced with repairing aging transportation structures at the same time that budgets are decreasing and the number of drivers is increasing.

A structurally deficient bridge doesn’t mean it’s ready to collapse, but it does have load-bearing features that have deteriorated to poor condition. The state regularly inspects bridges, and when one is determined to be critically unsafe, either a weight limit is imposed on vehicles crossing the structure or it is closed.

Over the last 20 years, the state has saved money by better maintaining its bridges.

At some point, even maintenance isn’t enough and bridges need to be replaced, like the Airport Road bridge north of Las Vegas, New Mexico, that spans Interstate 25. “It was determined that the cost of maintaining the bridge was no longer cost-effective, and a replacement project has been awarded,” said Melissa Dosher, spokeswoman for the New Mexico Department of Transportation.

State-owned bridges or those important to the interlinked national highway system are inspected every two years.

In 2015, the department plans to replace three dozen bridges and do major rehabilitation work or widen another 14 bridges. Four bridges in Santa Fe County, all on N.M. 14, are scheduled for replacement in 2015.


Information from: The Santa Fe New Mexican, https://www.sfnewmexican.com

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