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FDOT finds 'severe corrosion' in Roosevelt Bridge

Roosevelt Bridge remains closed to traffic amid an FDOT inspection. (WPEC).
Roosevelt Bridge remains closed to traffic amid an FDOT inspection. (WPEC).
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During their potential weeks-long inspection of Stuart’s Roosevelt Bridge, the Florida Department of Transportation reported “severe corrosion” that “ruptured” a key part of the bridge that helps maintain its strength.

In a tweet Thursday, FDOT wrote that the “latest inspections and calculations show that the first span of the southbound bridge has severe corrosion resulting in steel tendons that support the bridge being ruptured.”

According to FDOT, it appears the tendon damage has only been discovered in that one section of the southbound bridge.

Andy Herrmann, former president of the American Society of Civil Engineers, explained that tendons are metal cables in the bridge that run its entire length.

The tendons provide tension and work together with the bridge’s concrete to hold the structure up and allow it to support the weight of cars.

“As you lose tendons to corrosion, the strength of the bridge, it gets a little bit weaker,” Herrmann said. “Hopefully, there’s a factor of safety and there’s a redundancy in tendons where if you start losing some, the bridge will still stand up.”

Corrosion, Herrmann explained, usually comes from water making its way into the bridge’s concrete. He said the damage currently found on the bridge is not typical of normal wear and tear.

“We design a bridge for a 75 to 100-year life. This bridge is only 23 years old,” he said.

Herrmann said there are typically ways to repair or offset broken tendons, provided damage isn’t widespread. He also echoed the statements of Martin County officials, saying the overall inspection of the bridge could take weeks.

While the inspections continue, Martin County is bracing for a spike in accidents along detour routes, as cars continue to travel bumper to bumper in previously rarely used areas.

“[This] has put us in a position to have traffic flow issues we never planned on having before this happened,” said Maj. John Budensiek with the Martin County Sheriff’s Office.

Maj. Budensiek advised drivers to remain vigilant, stay off their phones and expect delays.

“There is no workaround. The street that they’re on they’re stuck on," he said. "Hitting a side street isn’t going to help, isn’t going to make it any faster. [It] may actually contribute to the problem."

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