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Collapsed bridge was in 'poor condition' and recommended for replacement before truck brought it down

According to the National Bridge Inventory report by the US Department of Transportation, as of Dec. 31, 2020, 8 of DC's 243 bridges are rated as "poor."

WASHINGTON — The pedestrian bridge that toppled after being struck by a truck on 295 Wednesday in Northeast, D.C. had been declared in "poor condition" – as an engineer said city officials should consider its eventual removal, according to the report from a February bridge inspection prepared for the District of Columbia.

"Due to continuing impact damage to the prestressed concrete t-beams, spalls and delaminations in the soffit, and deterioration of the walking surfaces and undersides of both pedestrian approach ramps, consideration should be given to replacing the bridge," the report said.

The bridge was given a "4" rating on the 9-point scale used to assess the condition of the nation's bridges, according to the report which included disturbing photos of crumbling concrete, rusting steel and a cracked deck.

Despite the deficiencies, the bridge was safe for continued use, according to District officials and an independent structural engineer who reviewed the documents for WUSA9.

USDOT Inspection

"Based on what I read in this report, and the photographs I saw, I don't think it should be considered an unsafe bridge," said Allyn Kilsheimer of KCE Structural Engineers whose experience includes emergency recovery and restoration of the Pentagon after 9/11.

"I don't think it should be taken out of service. I think it needed to have either repair substantial repairs done or be replaced," Kilsheimer said.

DDOT 2019 Inspection

Kilshiemer explained the deficiencies in the report, while substantial, did not indicate the core structure of the bridge was unstable.

The impact from being hit by a truck was the cause of the collapse, according to DC Deputy Mayor for Public Safety Christopher Geldart.

Kilshiemer said because pedestrian bridges are lighter than those designed for vehicle traffic, it was not capable of withstanding the hit from the truck.

According to the National Bridge Inventory reported by the US Department of Transportation, as of Dec. 31, 2020, 8 of DC's 243 bridges are rated as "poor".

Credit: U.S. DOT
The U.S. DOT National Bridge inventory shows the conditions of bridges across the country.

All of those bridges are in use and are in line for funding for repairs or replacement, according to Geldart.

Those bridges are: 

  • Roosevelt Bridge between DC and VA
  • Anacostia Freeway over Suitland Pkwy
  • Memorial Bridge
  • NB S.Capitol St over Suitland Pkwy
  • H Street over Washington Terminal Yard
  • The ramp from Benning Rd over SB Kenilworth Ave
  • Joyce Road over Luzon Branch
  • 31st Street N.W. over the C & O Canal

In all, 3.3% of DC's bridges are in "structurally deficient" condition, according to the National Bridge Inventory.

The condition of DC's bridge inventory ranks ahead of 44 other US states and territories, the report found.

DDOT 2021 Inspection 

RELATED: Driver forgot to lower truck's subframe before it crashed into DC bridge, police say

RELATED: A DC driver avoids bridge collapse onto DC-295 highway. Here's what she says happened

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