By Rita Cook / Staff Writer
FERRIS – It was a shock when a resident in the Ferris area discovered the bridge on Interstate 45 at mile marker 268 heading north looked to have lost a lot of the ground underneath around the bridge’s piles.
Erosion was the top concern for the resident, who also mentioned the pile might be much more far reaching into the ground than it appeared.
However, so disturbing was the erosion the resident called TXDot immediately.
A pile is a vertical support structure used, in part, to hold a bridge up and it can be made of wood, concrete, or steel, in this case it is concrete. A pile is hammered into the soil beneath the bridge until the end of it reaches the hard sub layer of compacted soil or rock below.
The job of the engineer arrivng a week later to inspect the bridge’s safety was to make a determination just how far the pile extended into that hard sub layer of soil or rock and how bad the apparent erosion was in regard to safety.
Donna Huerta Simmons, TxDot Dallas District, Public Information Officer who lives in the vicinity of the bridge also made a stop at the bridge even before the engineer, in order to get an idea of what shape the bridge and it’s support underneath looked like.
The following day TXDot engineers put any sign of alarm at rest and Simmons said, “The bridge you are referring to on I45 at exit 268 does have some normal signs of erosion underneath, but recent inspections determined erosion does not pose any dangers and the bridge is structurally sound.”
In fact, this bridge actually received a routine inspection on April 28, and engineers were now in the process of evaluating the scope related to maintenance of the bridge.
According to TXDot, bridge engineers inspect all the local area bridges every two years.
“All bridges that are deemed unsafe would be immediately shut down,” Simmons said. “This [bridge]is not one of them.”
The missing ground the resident had noticed when he first made the TXDot call was caused by the kind of erosion happening with heavy rains. Simmons said it is very common under and around bridges.
“The evaluation of the scope simply means we will determine exactly what will be included in the maintenance contract for the procurement process,” Simmons concluded.