The Roosevelt Bridge that suffered the structural damage, spans across the St. Lucie River in the city of Stuart, Florida. It was constructed in 1996 to replace an older facility that consisted of two parallel bridges. The structure is part of the United States Highway 1 that stretches for over 3800 kilometers along the eastern U.S. coastline.
On June 17, 2020, a large crack appeared along the southerly part of the facility and exposed some steel cables while some concrete fragments fell off the structure. The crack was detected after a routine maintenance check that was conducted by the Florida Department of Transportation. Authorities immediately closed the southbound lanes of the bridge, raising concerns about a potential collapse. The traffic was temporarily accommodated by the northbound lanes which were split in two. “We apologize for the delays, but the safety of all motorists and pedestrians is our priority..." Florida Department of Transportation mentioned in a comment.
According to recent updates, the Major of Stuart, Mike Meier, reassured that the bridge is not prone to a total collapse. Meier said that the facility is thoroughly inspected and that structural damage has been found, but, "there is no evidence to suggest that the bridge will collapse imminently". He also stated that the closure was a result of an excess in safety measures rather than a necessity. The investigation includes core drilling into the concrete framework to evaluate the conditions of steel tendons. Moreover, Ground-Penetrating Radar (GPR), a method that uses electromagnetic waves to map structures, has been employed to detect damaged sections.
According to reports, the results of the detailed investigation will call for radical repairs along the bridge. The Florida Department of Transportation mentioned that the first span of the southbound bridge has undergone intense corrosion and some steel tendons have been ruptured.
Commercial vessels were enabled to travel under the bridge after a restriction had been applied on boat commuting.
Nevertheless, normal road traffic has not been restored while the timeline of the repair works has not been issued yet. "We are going to have some very serious traffic issues," Joseph Tumminelli, the Police Chief of Stuart, stated.
According to a report, recently issued by the American Road & Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA), more than 1/3 of the United States bridges (231,000) need to be repaired or completely replaced.