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* News Release *
Thursday, June 5, 2003
For Immediate Release


Construction projects and orange barrels can be a necessary nuisance this time of year. But there is also something taking place around and under the County's bridges that most motorists don't see. In an ongoing effort to ensure motorist safety, the Butler County Engineer's Office conducts an annual bridge inspection program, according to Butler County Engineer Greg Wilkens. "Many of our citizens may not be familiar with all the work that goes into making sure the motoring public stays as safe as possible. But each year, Butler County's 373 bridges are individually inspected for wear and tear," he said.

General traffic and heavy loads gradually affect the integrity of a bridge over time, but the weather in this part of the country is also a factor. Road salt, plowing, thawing and re-freezing can all take their toll on our County's roadway structures.

Jerry Garrett, BCEO Safety Manager, emphasized that bridge safety is one of the most important and yet least recognized facets of the Engineer's Office. "Bridge failures can have catastrophic effects on the local community, such as increased traffic congestion, a negative impact on the local economy, and most tragically, a possible loss of life."

The criterion for inspecting a bridge is an extremely extensive process. Every aspect of the bridge is carefully and painstakingly inspected for potential problems. Bridge engineers look for deterioration and cracking of various bridge components - beams, piers, abutments, wing walls, and roadway surfaces. "Consideration is also given to how well it appears to be keeping up with heavy loads and the amount of daily traffic," said Dale Schwieterman, BCEO Design and Engineering Manager.

Each bridge also has a report containing structural information such as the year it was built, length and width of the bridge, and what type of structure it is. The report lists all inspection findings, including decay, debris, or cracks, and incorporates a rating system for each individual area of the bridge structure. The bridge then gets an overall rating and at the end of the report there is a section recommending maintenance measures to fix any problems. This system helps determine which bridges need to be repaired or replaced. In some cases an older bridge may be assigned a load limit and posted with the maximum allowable weight the structure can safely support.

All inspections are typically performed in the late spring and summer months. An individual inspection can take from less than an hour to perhaps a full day, depending upon the size and structure of the bridge.

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For more information contact:

Chris Petrocy, BCEO Public Information Supervisor
Greg Wilkens, P.E., P.S., Butler County Engineer
Phone 513.867.5744 • Fax 513.867.5849

Questions or comments about this web site? Email to BCEO Webmaster.

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