Gusset plates get attention of Missouri engineers
January 16, 2008
A study of Missouri's 232 truss bridges on the state highway system is focusing on the gusset plates used in their design, according to a statement issued by Pete Rahn, Missouri Department of Transportation director. Federal findings recently determined that the probable cause of the Minneapolis bridge collapse was due to the failure of its gusset plates, the steel plates that connect the beams of the bridge's frame.

"We don't expect to find anything that is compromising the safety of these bridges," Rahn said. "All our bridges are inspected regularly and are designed to safely handle traffic, or else we'd close them right away. But we need to double-check and make sure all our truss bridges are safe because we cannot let what happened in Minnesota happen here in Missouri."

Rahn reported that safety engineers are studying all the bridge plans and analyzing the loads on each of them to make sure that all the support components, including gusset plates, are strong enough to handle the traffic they carry. The 232 truss bridges average 67 years of age.

According to MoDOT, Missouri has over 10,000 bridges in the state's highway system. They are inspected at least every two years.

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