Structural Expert Warns Bridge Failure — TxDOT NOT Concerned

by Darren Hunt, El Paso ‘s ABC-7

Cracks have been discovered in a couple of bridges along Interstate 10.

Earlier this week, an ABC-7 viewer e-mailed pictures of cracks in the concrete bridges located near the Sunland Park exit going both East and West on I-10.

Although Texas Department of Transportation officials said there is no cause for concern, ABC-7 sought a second opinion.

We asked UTEP Engineering Professor Dr. Carlos Ferregut whether the cracks could lead to a much larger problem?

"Some of these cracks are due to wear and tear that I would consider regular wear and tear," Dr. Ferregut said.

But one crack, that ran across a beam, left Dr. Ferregut concerned.

"We will need to get TxDOT to send engineers to take a closer look at that crack," he said. "The geometry of the crack indicates a possible shear failure."

TxDOT officials said they inspected the bridges about nine months ago and they were deemed safe. They are not due for an additional inspection until August of 2009.

"Normally, if a bridge is in good condition, it's two years, every two years," TxDOT Transportation Engineer Tony Lujan said. "But if there's something wrong then we adjust from there and see how often we have to monitor."

Dr. Ferregut said he believes something needs to be done about that crack.

"It's the kind of failure that is brittle and doesn't give much warning," he said. "If for some reason we have a very heavy weight coming through, passing close to that beam, it could be potentially a failure situation."

Don't forget these other TxDOT failures:

Large Hole opens in Houston
Freeway, TxDOT clueless.

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