I-75 overpass inspection in 2018 raises questions about Monday's beam collapse
A 33-page report details the inspection in July of 2018 that graded the I-75 North overpass with a 5 out of 9.
The report notes cracks increasing in size and trees growing on top of bent caps, problems the inspector suggested be repaired. The grade was categorized as fair, meaning the bridge was safe to use.
According to engineers like TDOT's Steve Hutchings, the noted issues are common problems for a bridge that's been around since 1959.
"It was rated structurally fair, which is a good rating. There was no structural problems with the bridge. It's an older bridge and it had normal problems an older bridge would have. There was no reason for us to expect anything like this would happen. I mean, everything was in good condition,” Hutchings said.
Hutchings says the bridge showed no signs of breaking apart, sending a concrete beam crashing onto the interstate below. He says what happened to this bridge is out of the ordinary.
"If we found a reason of what might have caused this and it might be at another bridge then yes, we would look at other bridges with this same type of construction. But I don't see any reason. I just think this is a once in a lifetime incident,” Hutchings said.
The bridge was set to have another inspection in May of 2020.
According to last year's report, inspectors recommended crews address existing issues.
It isn't clear what caused the bridge to collapse.
Chief Director Joe Deering says they will use every resource they can to figure what caused the beam to fall.
"We are trying to look into the trucking industry to see if we can get any video. We also have the highway patrol who have teamed with us to look at the weigh stations at any over-sized loads that may have been damaged recently,” Deering said.
The bridge is slated to be replaced as part of a larger TDOT project that was announced last year. Officials say Monday’s incident will not affect the project.