(By Nick Schneider) [Order this photo]
Greene County Highway Superintendent Brent Murray said the county, like most other counties in the state, has a regular replacement schedule. But that schedule has not been followed and that's the reason why 41 of the county's 210 bridges received a structurally deficient rating in the recent survey by Transportation America, a national coalition working to reform the transportation system with responsible investment of federal tax dollars.
Indiana ranks 26th nationally in terms of overall bridge condition.
Greene County's 20 percent deficient rating ranks it 82nd among the state's 92 counties.
Among the oldest local bridges, County Bridge 49 on County Road 750E over Clifty Creek was constructed in 1899. The single span, 51-feet long bridge has a current 3 ton weight limit and is used daily by an average of 110 cars.
Replacement cost for that bridge has been estimated at $325,000 for actual construction work.
Neighboring Sullivan County had the lowest rating (92nd of 92 counties) with 74 of 218 bridges -- or 33.90 percent structurally deficient according to the study.
Murray is not surprised with Greene County's ranking.
The county has a large number of bridges exceeding 50 years old while some of those in the worst condition were constructed between 1899 and 1920.
"I think everybody (the other counties are) pretty much in the same boat," Murray told the Greene County Daily World.
Murray stressed that the structurally deficient label doesn't necessarily mean the bridge is unsafe to drive over, but most of the worst bridges do have a specific weight restriction -- some as low as 3 tons.
Federal law requires states to inspect all bridges 20 feet or longer at least every two years. They are rated on a 1-9 scale on the super structure, which supports the deck; substructure which uses the ground to support; and the deck, which is the top surface of the bridge. Any bridge that scores 4 or less on any of the three elements is termed structurally deficient -- meaning engineers have identified a major defect in its structure or its deck.
The county has closed four bridges in the past year for structural problems, as recommended by BF&S Civil Engineering of Indianapolis, including:
* Bridge No. 360 on CR. 390N a 133 feet timber trestle bridge over Indiana Rail Road Company tracks; $620,000 replacement cost
* Bridge No. 272, a 93 feet timber trestle bridge on CR. 200N over Indiana Rail Road Company tracks; $508,000 replacement cost.
* Bridge No. 311, a 51 feet timber single span pony truss bridge with timber deck over Little Indian Creek; $368,000 replacement cost.
* Bridge No. 9, a 61 feet pony truss bridge with a concrete deck on County Road 650N over Richland Creek; $350,000 replacement cost.
There are other bridges that have been closed -- some for years, Murray said.
Some of the "worst of the worst" county bridges include:
* County Bridge 283 on CR. 750 W. over Indiana RR property -- 5 ton limit -- $535,000 replacement cost.
* County Bridge 89 on CR 725S over Stone Branch -- 11 ton limit -- $243,000 replacement cost.
* County Bridge 188 on CR. 1450W over Black Creek -- 3 ton limit -- $570,000 replacement cost.
* County Bridge No. 50 on CR. 130S over Clifty Creek -- 4 ton limit -- $250,000 replacement cost.
* County Bridge No. 149 on CR. 1500W over Mud Creek - 10 ton limit -- $190,000 replacement cost.
* County Bridge No. 24 on CR. 390N over Richland Creek - 3 ton limit -- $480,000 replacement cost.
* County Bridge No. 49 on CR. 750E over Clifty Creek -- 3 ton limit -- $325,000 replacement cost.
* County Bridge No. 242 on CR. 475E over a branch of Richland Creek -- 3 ton limit -- replacement cost $200,000.
* County Bridge No. 35 on CR.1375E over Indian Creek -- 8 ton limit -- $320,000 replacement cost.
* County Bridge No. 240 on CR. 400S -- 10 ton limit -- $434,000 replacement cost.
* County Bridge No. 213 on CR. 200W over Branch of First Creek -- 5 ton limit -- replacement cost $243,000 replacement cost.
* County Bridge No. 237 on CR. 100S over Buck Creek -- 5 ton limit -- $406,000 replacement cost.
"These are the top ones. It's not that they are unsafe for motorists to cross, but there are problems. First and foremost we have to be concerned with school buses. If they (the schools) have to deviate a route then they have to do that and go on an alternate route," Murray pointed out in noting that the replacement costs does not tally in the expense for engineering or grade changes.
Indiana's Top 10 Worst Counties for Bridge Condition
Percent of structurally deficient bridges
1. Sullivan -- 33.90
2. Crawford -- 30.70
3. Jennings -- 28.90
4. Putnam -- 28.30
5. Orange -- 22.70
6. Parke -- 22.50
7. Clay -- 22.00
8. Starke -- 21.80
9. Owen -- 21.50
10. Greene -- 20.40