Kathleen Fuller, public information officer for Ohio Department of Transportation, District 9, said the southern Ohio area, as well as the rest of the state, are ahead of most states when it comes to the regular inspection of bridges and similar structures.
"We have a very aggressive inspection schedule and policy within the state, one of the most aggressive in the country," she said. "So we probably inspect more bridges than any other state in the country. And we do it with a lot of aggression toward keeping the bridges safe. So if there's a problem with corrosion, our bridge department here at the district will take matters to do some sort of a construction project."
Fuller said ODOT would perform maintenance work by county forces, and perhaps then fit a bridge into a construction plan, what she termed, "a preservation project."
U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, on Wednesday, announced in a conference call with media in Ohio, new legislation to protect the structural integrity of Ohio bridges by preventing and addressing corrosion.
Brown discussed legislation to mandate corrosion mitigation and prevention plans for new bridge construction, and provide tax credits to improve anti-corrosion technology that protects existing machinery and infrastructure.
The Bridge Life Extension Act of 2008, companion legislation to H.R, 6234 introduced in the House by Congressman Michael Conway, R-Texas, would require corrosion mitigation and prevention plans for bridges receiving federal funding.
The bill would require any proposal to Department of Transportation for bridge construction, modification or renovation to include a corrosion mitigation and prevention plan.
The Corrosion Prevention Act, companion legislation to H.R. 1770 - also introduced by Conway - would provide tax credits in the amount of 50 percent of the project's cost for corrosion prevention measures.
Brown said it would include engineering design, materials, and application and installation of corrosion prevention and mitigation technology.
"We must act now to protect Ohio motorists," Brown said. "Requiring corrosion prevention plans is a common-sense step toward safe and sustainable infrastructure. We also need to develop and install new anti-corrosion technologies. This will protect American infrastructure while creating jobs and saving taxpayer dollars."
Brown said corrosion on bridges commonly occurs when moisture from the concrete bridge deck affects the steel reinforcement bar and structural components on bridges.
He said the corrosion weakens the metal, puts additional pressure on the concrete and compromises the structural soundness of the bridge.
"Typically, for anti-corrosive measures, we use a couple of things," said Fuller. "One is painting. That is one of the more cost-efficient solutions to prevent corrosion. We also use epoxy-coated reinforcing steel, and we also seal concrete surfaces, so the sealants help as well to prevent some of the corrosion."
Fuller was asked about the broken concrete on the westbound lane of the Sciotoville overpass.
"With any of our bridges in the state, and in our district as well, all of our bridge inspectors are highly-trained. And those individuals every year inspect all structures," she said. "The federal mandates throughout the country is that all bridges must be inspected every two years, but in Ohio, our law dictates that we have to inspect every year. So all bridges are given careful scrutiny at all times. So if there are any issues, whether it is that particular structure or any other bridge. It could be the new Grant Bridge - or anything - anything that pops up will be addressed immediately."
Brown said a study conducted by Federal Highway Administration in 2001, found that corrosion costs $276 billion per year, including $8.3 billion in costs because of bridge corrosion. In 2007 dollars, this translates into $442 billion in total corrosion costs and $13.3 billion in bridge corrosion costs.
"This means annual costs for Ohio of about $15 billion in corrosion costs and $500 million in bridge corrosion costs for 2007," he said.
Brown said last year, Congress approved an additional $1 billion in bridge funding in the Omnibus spending bill to be distributed to states this year.
FRANK LEWIS can be reached at (740) 353-3101, ext. 232.