State says Hawaii’s bridges are safe

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Thursday’s bridge collapse in Washington has many people across the country concerned about bridge safety.

There are 1,165 bridges in Hawaii. According to the state Department of Transportation, 84 of them are structurally deficient.

The DOT says 440 are functionally obsolete, which means they were built with outdated construction techniques.

It could cost up to $1 billion to repair or replace all state bridges to current standards.

The state is doing what it can and says Hawaii’s bridges are safe.

Many people drive on Nimitz Highway near Honolulu Harbor and don’t realize they’re actually driving over a bridge.

It’s one of seven bridges the state is repairing.

“There are a lot of older bridges. It’s something that we do need to look into to prioritize. It’s very important that we do these inspections and that we make sure that the bridges are taken care of,” DOT spokesperson Caroline Sluyter said.

The state inspects all of its bridges every two years and says it’s highly unlikely what happened in Washington state, could happen in Hawaii.

“The majority of our bridges are not the type of bridge that collapsed over there and we do have a program, where we are inspecting the bridges at all times and we are working on maintenance for the ones that need it,” Sluyter said.

The DOT is currently working on that bridge on Nimitz Highway. It has eroded due to constant exposure to seawater. The $1.6 million project will be done in August.

The DOT is also planning to replace two wooden bridges in Makaha.

Both bridges are structurally deficient and need to be replaced due to age. The project will go out to bid later this year.

In 2006, one of the bridges had to undergo emergency repairs after a fire.

One of the most recent repairs involved another bridge that was deemed “structurally deficient.”

The state had to do emergency work on the Karsten Thot bridge in Wahiawa due to environmental and age-related damage.

The DOT says “structurally deficient” does not mean a bridge is unsafe, it just means the bridge needs a good amount of maintenance and repair to continue working.

KHON2’s Kristine Uyeno: “Are Hawaii’s bridges safe?”

DOT spokesperson Caroline Sluyter: “Yes.”

Residents KHON2 spoke to say they have their doubts.

“I don’t think I have a great feeling of safety that every bridge is going to hold up here perfectly,” Honolulu resident Mark Maryott said.

“I just hope they do the same amount of work and think of people’s safety in general,” Honolulu resident Victoria Brice said.

The DOT’s current bridge projects include the following:

  • Umauma Stream Bridge
  • Hanapepe River Bridge
  • Kipapa Stream Bridge
  • Upper Poamoho Stream Bridge
  • Maipalaoa Bridge
  • Waiahole Stream Bridge
  • Karsten Thot Bridge (additional repairs)

Click here for the Transportation for America website on bridges across the U.S.

Transportation for America is nonprofit transportation advocacy group based in Washington, D.C.

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