Pedestrian bridge safety in southern Illinois - WSIL-TV 3 Southern Illinois

Pedestrian bridge safety in southern Illinois

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CARBONDALE -- The deadly pedestrian bridge collapse in Florida this week has led to questions about the safety of pedestrian bridges across the country, including in Southern Illinois.

While the Illinois Department of Transportation is responsible for maintaining and inspecting vehicle bridges, it's a different story when it comes to pedestrian bridges.

In most cases, the responsibility falls to a local government agency, like a city or park district.

The two pedestrian bridges over Highway 51 near SIU in Carbondale are under the university's jurisdiction.

Brad Dillard, the director of the SIU Plant & Service Operations department, which is in charge of maintaining the pedestrian bridges, says the school follows federal guidelines, inspecting the bridges every two years.

They also do visual inspections every six months. 

"This [north] bridge is in excellent shape and the bridge to the south of the university that was built in 1986, that's in good shape also," he said. "Facility staff keep a close eye on them and obviously if a problem develops with a bridge like this, it's very slow in developing. You know there's nothing very dramatic that's going to happen overnight with them."

The north pedestrian bridge, which was built in 1971, underwent a million dollars worth of improvements in 2003.

It's the most-traveled of the two bridges, but that foot traffic is expected to drop drastically with the closure of the two remaining residential towers on the east side of campus.

Another pedestrian bridge is located in Mt. Vernon, near Casey Junior High School.

The City of Mt. Vernon is responsible for maintaining this bridge.

News 3 obtained the most recent inspection report, from a visual inspection conducted on the bridge in January by Kaskaskia Engineering Group, LLC.

Inspectors found the bridge had several cracks on its staircases; some of the railing was falling apart; and they recommended a new coat of paint to keep the steel from corroding. 

The inspectors rated the overall structural condition as "satisfactory."

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