TOPEKA, (KSNT)— Kansas transportation officials are taking a closer look at hundreds of bridges across the state.
This comes just weeks after a state bridge inspector stepped down, following the collapse of a more than 60-foot stretch of concrete barrier from the Polk Quincy Viaduct in Topeka. The inspector failed to report warning signs. Kansas Department of Transportation (KDOT) officials told Kansas Capitol Bureau that 282 bridges with similar rail details to Polk-Quincy are being inspected.
“We had one crew start, I believe it was last week, they’ve inspected about 35 of those so far,” KDOT Deputy Secretary Burt Morey said. “They’ll bring in two more crews next week.”
A spokesman for KDOT said the department contracted with an engineering consultant (HNTB) to inspect the bridges. The inspection will focus on the condition of the rails. Morey told reporters that they haven’t found anything “alarming” so far, and that the inspections are expected to wrap up by late July. He said they’re also expecting to have the majority of the barrier wall on Polk-Quincy removed around that time.
Workers are in the process of replacing more than 2200 feet of the decades-old bridge.
“They’re ramping up to get about 100, 150 feet a day,” Morey said. “It should take about 20 days. It should be done by the third week in July.”
The construction project has caused several road closures. Morey said that the department will carry out the wall replacement in a way that allows Kansas Avenue to be reopened first, then Jackson, then Van Buren, then sections of S.W. 2nd Street. In the meantime, the department is focusing on getting the bridge replaced.
“Safety’s our top priority and we want to make sure this gets done properly,” said KDOT Secretary Julie Lorenz.