16 Maricopa County bridges listed as being 'structurally deficient'

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By Andrew Michalscheck By Andrew Michalscheck

PHOENIX -- Due in part to the deadly collapse of a bridge over the Mississippi River in Minnesota in 2007, the Federal Bridge Inventory surveyed more than 600,000 bridges. 

Of those, 65,380 were found to be "structurally deficient." Twelve of those bridges are in Maricopa County.

Doug Nintzel of the Arizona Department of Transportation says that label can be misleading. What it really indicates, he says, is that a bridge has some type of damage that needs to be eventually fixed. 

That damage, Nintzel says, is often cosmetic, such as cracked or broken pieces of the underneath part of the bridge where high loads caused impact. 

The Interstate 17 bridges that pass over Central Avenue and 19th Avenue in Phoenix both have that type of damage, placing them both on the federal list as "structurally deficient".

Phoenix's 15th Avenue bridge that spans the Grand Canal just north of Indian School Road is also on the list.

Matthew Heil of the city's Streets and Transportation Department says Phoenix engineers disagree with the concerns the federal government has with the bridge, believing none of the damaged areas affects any of the bridge's weight bearing structures.

The good news brought about by the Federal Bridge Inventory? Arizona ranks in the top five states when it comes to having the fewest bridges with problems. 

Some of the bridges on the list, which only went up to 2011, have already been repaired or taken out of service, Nintzel says. 

But he adds with repairing our nation's aging infrastructure being bypassed due to spending cuts, Arizona bridges may have a rough road ahead.

Other bridges listed as "structurally deficient" on the Federal Bridge Inventory include:
1) Drain Canal at 64th St. 15 miles south of Shea
2) Queen Creek at Ocotillo Road east of Hawes Rd.
3) Mill Ave. at Center Parkway westbound 0.6 miles north of Curry Road
4) Squaw Creek I-17 northbound at 15.3 miles north of SR74