Washington Department of Transportation ranks Latah Creek Bridge ‘poor’

SPOKANE, Wash.–One of the most-traveled bridges in the Inland Northwest has the same safety rating as the bridge that collapsed in Pittsburgh and sent 10 people to the hospital.

Out of the three rankings, ‘good,’ ‘fair’ and ‘poor’, the collapsed bridge was rated ‘poor’ for months.

The I-90 bridge over Latah Creek, which has more than 40,000 people driving over it a day also has the same ‘poor’ rating.

“In general, if somebody says a bridge is in poor condition, that means at least one of the major elements – the bridge deck or superstructure is at a four or below. And, that means about the same thing to most agencies,” said Mark Gaines, a state bridge engineer for the Washington Department of Transportation.

All bridges are ranked following the same National Bridge Inspection Standards set by the Federal Highway Administration.

However, in Washington, Gaines explained ‘poor’ bridges shouldn’t worry drivers.

“When it gets down to poor, it doesn’t mean that it’s less safe than a bridge in very good condition, it just means that there’s maintenance and preservation work out there that needs to be done, that isn’t yet funded or programmed yet,” Gaines said.

The Latah Creek Bridge is ranked ‘poor’ because expansion joints on the bridge deck are being strained. During extreme heat, those joints can potentially even pop. The Washington Department of Transportation is keeping a close eye on it.

Right now, there is no date or funding for a repair project.

The Rosamond Bridge is closed to drivers. But, that isn’t stopping them from using it. They have cast the ‘road closed’ sign aside several times.

Kim Wright, who lives on Rosamond Avenue, says the bridge being open is convenient.

“There’s a lot of traffic that goes there. The school buses and all that go across there,” Wright said.

Rosamond is closed because of deterioration on the bridge deck. The middle of the road, where the deterioration is the worst, is blocked off by cones.

“What they’re putting themselves in danger of, is more their vehicle because, with any driving surface, you hit a pothole and you can get a flat tire, you can hurt your suspension on the vehicle, twist and axel, things like that,” said Ryan Overton, Communications Manager for WSDOT.  “We’ve closed the bridge for that reason.”

If a bridge does become an issue, the Department of Transportation may put weight restrictions, reduce lanes, or close the bridge entirely.

RELATED: ‘Very confident’: This is how the safety of state bridges in Washington is determined

RELATED: What does poor rating for collapsed bridge mean for others?