Part of county budget set for bridge inspections

By Maria Hechanova

TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - The Pima County Department of Transportation director says the county has budgeted $325,000 to inspect a total of 50 bridges to make sure they don't become a problem.

In Pima County, the Federal Highway Administration lists 100 bridges that need to be repaired or replaced.

One of them is the Interstate-10 bridge at Orange Grove. Today, bridge inspectors are in Southern Arizona as part of a regular check-up.

Workers are using a core rig to take out part of the bridge deck, which will be taken to the lab and crushed to see how much weight it can withstand.

Marsh Station Road Bridge,just south of Vail, is getting its yearly check up.

But engineers are digging deeper into the inspection process than they usually do. The last thing the county wants this 80-year-old bridge to do is collapse.

Bridge engineer Dave Zaleski says he'll be keeping a close eye on what's happening.

"We would want to learn what happened up there to prevent a similar accident from happening on a Pima County bridge site," he said. "As you know, we have many of those under construction right now."

Even though the test results haven't come back yet from the Marsh Station Road Bridge, the director of Pima County's Department of Transportation, Priscilla Cornelio says so far, so good.

"They're very safe," she said. "Nobody has to worry about them. We are out inspecting them and watching them and I'm confident that our bridges are fine."

However, she is keeping an eye out on two of them in Madera Canyon.

"Those bridges would cost about $2 million to replace, about $1 million for each bridge. We just don't have enough money. Period. The end."

Today, engineers also inspected the Greaterville Road Bridge, located off state route 83 and Soldier Trail Bridge near Mount Lemmon.

The average cost to inspect one of these bridges is between $1,000 and $1,500, which is partially funded by the federal government.

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