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Bridge inspection enhancement

Published (6/1/2010)
By Lee Ann Schutz
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After the Interstate 35W bridge collapse in 2007, there were three separate management reviews of the Department of Transportation, with emphasis on its bridge inspection role.

Sponsored by Rep. Melissa Hortman (DFL-Brooklyn Park) and Sen. D. Scott Dibble (DFL-Mpls), a new law reflects some recommendations generated from the reviews.

The law, mostly effective May 16, 2010, will enhance the state’s bridge inspection program by designating funds for innovations in bridge monitoring and inspection technology to help address outdated bridge inspection techniques. It also requires a report to the Legislature on Feb. 1 of each odd-numbered year on bridge inspections and quality assurance, including a summary of inspection reviews. The estimated $12,000 report cost would come from the Trunk Highway Fund.

An Office of the Legislative Auditor recommendation that the department develop a debt management plan is also part of the law. Hortman said this will help assure that, “when we fund transportation projects, we are aware of the debt, and that we don’t dedicate a whole bunch of our future revenues to paying down debt when we know we are going to have continuing maintenance costs.”

The law also requires that either the department commissioner or a deputy commissioner be a professional engineer.

HF605/ SF1060*/CH350

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