"They can get information that tells them how the bridge has been rated, when it was inspected, and basically the condition of the structure," said Sarah Wilson, IDOT bridge engineer.
The website-- wrc.dot.il.gov/bridgeinformation/main.aspx, contains information on each of Illinois' nearly 27,000 bridges. They are rated on a scale of 0 to 9 for the deck, or driving surface, the superstructure or beams that hold up the bridge and the substructure, which includes piers and other elements that support the beams. The Congress Bridge over the Chicago River will undergo a 2-year, $33-million rehab starting next year. In its last inspection a couple months ago, its substructure received a rating of only 4 due to its poor condition and advanced deterioration.
A lot of the damage is due to the open grid design on the bridge deck.
"As the water comes through, it carries salt and debris and it has caused a lot of rust and as steel rusts it loses strength," said Sarah Wilson, IDOT bridge engineer.
This is the first time the state has been so open about the condition of its bridges since the fatal bridge collapse of I-35 in Minneapolis 2 years ago. According to a statement from IDOT, "over the past few years IDOT did not release as much bridge information because of Homeland Security issues. Because of high demand, IDOT has decided to release more information on Illinois bridges for the public's use and knowledge."
Federal regulations require bridges to be inspected every 2 years - those with lower ratings are inspected every year.