By Christina Hager, WBZ-TVBy Christina Hager

AMESBURY (CBS)- The partial bridge collapse in Washington state has transportation officials in Massachusetts taking a close look at our own list of structurally deficient bridges.

As part of the Massachusetts Department of Transportation’s Accelerated Bridge Program, in the last five years, the state has repaired or replaced 121 bridges. There are currently 48 projects underway, and 20 more set to begin in the next year. Local transportation officials say that’s progress, but with more than 460 bridges still deemed “structurally deficient,” they say the situation in Washington should be a wake-up call.

They’re particularly concerned about the Whittier Bridge, built in 1951, which links Newburyport to Amesbury over the Merrimack River. Like the 1955 bridge that collapsed in Washington, the Whittier is also a truss bridge.

Construction is set to begin this summer to replace it, because it lacks what engineers call “redundancy.” That means it needs more back-up support, so that if a beam or cable were to break, the rest of the bridge would not collapse.

Massachusetts Highway Administrator Frank DePaola says the new bridge will meet modern standards. “Providing at least double strength in there to make sure that the bridge will survive a hit or some kind of catastrophic event,” he said.


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