About ten percent of the bridges in East Texas are considered "functionally obsolete," and now at least one of those bridges is getting replaced.
The bridge, on County Rod 230 in southeast Smith County, crosses a small part of Lake Tyler East. Officials are asking people who normally travel this road to take an alternative route from Highway 64 East into Arp. Then, you turn right on 135 and right on Farm to Market 345.
The Smith County Road and Bridge Department says the bridge was not considered dangerous yet, despite being classified as "functionally obsolete" in the past.
The 30-foot-long, 42-year-old bridge carries an average of 800 vehicles each day, but the bridge in Smith County has now seen its last flow of traffic. The road and bridge department shut it down Wednesday.
"We have some deterioration in some wood pilings," said Charley Miller, assistant road administrator of the Smith County Road and Bridge Department. "Over the years, they've started to rot. We've got a two-inch gap right now from the edge of the bridge to the roadway."
Miller said they could replace the bridge piece by piece, but it's more economical for the county to just replace the whole thing.
"The bridge itself, the main structure of it, is probably still sound, but it's just the supporting edges on it and the separation and things like that," said Miller. "Once they start that, it's easier to just take the whole bridge out."
It's a bridge the road department has had their eye on. The bridge was inspected last year by the state and received some repairs earlier this year.
"We went in there and did some headwall repair on it, but we got another call," said Miller.
"The guys went out there and checked it [Tuesday] evening, and then went back out there this morning and made the determination that we needed to close the bridge down and rebuild it," Miller added.
Though the bridge on CR 230 has been declared "functionally obsolete" for years, that doesn't necessarily mean it has been unsafe all this time. A functionally obsolete bridge means the structure was built according to standards that are no longer used today.
A structurally deficient bridge means there are parts of the bridge need to be replaced or monitored, but the bridge is not necessarily dangerous, either.
We took a closer look at the quality of the bridges in Smith, Gregg, Cherokee, Wood and Upshur counties. Eighty-four of the 814 bridges in those counties are labeled as "functionally obsolete," and 26 of the bridges are "structurally deficient."
To read more about the condition of the bridges you cross every day, click here.
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