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
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
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.
# # #
For more information contact:
Petrocy, BCEO Public
Wilkens, P.E., P.S.,
Butler County Engineer
Phone 513.867.5744 Fax 513.867.5849