It’s only been open for eight months, but inspectors have already found cracks on three new bridges that carry traffic over the first section of the Intercounty Connector.
Engineers found the cracks in the piers that support the overpasses on Emory Lane, Needwood Road and Georgia Avenue.
Construction crews are already working to make a short-term fix to the problem by reinforcing the piers with steel wire. They say, however, that a long-term plan is still in the works and may include replacing the piers all together.
ICC officials say the overpasses are still safe to drive on, but drivers may see delays near those overpasses over the next two weeks as crews make repairs.
“This has absolutely nothing to do with the safety of people traveling over the bridges,” ICC project spokesman Ray Feldmann told the Washington Post. “These bridges have functioned absolutely fine since they opened. This is really about the long-term durability of the bridge structures.”
The Post reports inspectors found between 40 and 50 cracks in 13 piers among the three overpasses. The cracks range anywhere from seven inches to three and a half feet long and .005 to.035 inches wide. ICC officials say they stem from a design flaw and that the contractors that built them will pay for the repairs. The paper also reports that the rest of the piers along the entire length of the roadway are being inspected, but most were designed by another firm and no other problems have been found.
The discovery was made just before a new report out yesterday that showed every 42 seconds a driver in the D.C. area crosses a bridge that is in need of repair. The Washington Examiner reports that the pro-infrastructure coalition, Transportation for America, found 5.7 percent of bridges in the Washington region are “structurally deficient.” That means they are need of frequent monitoring and critical maintenance.
The Examiner reports the bridges in highest need of repair are in the District, where 12.3 percent are considered deficient compared to 6.9 percent in Maryland and 9.4 percent in Virginia. The D.C. area ranks 19th nationwide when it comes to bridge conditions. Pittsburgh tops the list with 30 percent of its bridges considered deficient.
"We have approximately 230 bridges in the city, and they are all safe. Some of them are certainly getting older, but we have a program to repair or replace them as quickly as we can," D.C. Department of Transportation Spokesman John Lisle told the Examiner. "I don't think there's anything for anyone to worry about. Our bridges are safe."