Thursday, Dec 5, 2013
Jefferson County Bridge Collapses
WOODLAWN -- A bridge collapsed Thursday afternoon along Panzier Lane near Woodlawn in Jefferson County.
The highway is now closed as officials investigate what brought down the bridge and figure out what to do next.
Many drivers use Panzier Lane to go from Waltonville to Woodlawn.
A semi hauling gravel was the last vehicle to cross the bridge, which carries the highway over Rayse Creek.
The driver made it across safely.
"He looked in his rear view mirror and saw that the bridge had collapsed and immediately called the Sheriff's Department," said Brandon Simmons, Jefferson County Highway Engineer.
Workers immediately closed the road and started looking into the cause of the collapse.
The speed limit is 55 miles on that stretch of road and vehicles weighing up to 80,000 pounds are allowed over the bridge.
"It appears that this sub grade beneath the piers somehow became soft and basically sunk that section of piers," explained Simmons.
Simmons says in his 14 years on the job he's never seen a bridge look this bad. But we found the structure scored a 90% in a national evaluation last year, ranking in satisfactory condition.
Simmons says repairing or replacing the bridge could cost $500,000 to $600,000 dollars and it will be months before that work is finished.
"If we put this on a rush situation, I hate to put a time frame on it but 3 to 4 months, if we're lucky and we have the funding. We're hoping there's some emergency funding perhaps from IDOT," said Simmons.
In the meantime that stretch of road remains closed and drivers are advised to take other routes.
Wind: 13 MPH
Humidity: 70 %