(St. Paul, Minnesota - Dan Olson, MPR News) The Winona Bridge underscores Minnesota's aging transportation infrastructure. State bridge inspectors on a routine inspection last week spotted spreading corrosion, made a repair and slapped on some weight restrictions. The rust illustrates the problems associated with that 69-year-old structure and dozens of other spans around the state.
The 2007 collapse of the 35W bridge in Minneapolis put bridge safety at the top of the state's transportation agenda. In 2008, a report from the Office of the Legislative Auditor found problems with the Minnesota Department of Transportation bridge inspection system. The Auditor's report cited untimely bridge inspections, with only 85 percent of bridges inspected within the federal 24-month standard. MnDoT had too few inspectors and documentation of maintenance performed following bridge inspections was inadequate. State officials say they're making progress responding to bridge inspection shortcomings.