Overdue Bridge Bad for Business

By: Amy Gleason
By: Amy Gleason

Doug Orndorff has been doing auto upholstery for about 20 years. He started his own business six years ago.

"This is the worst year yet," said Orndorff of his business. He said his profits are two-thirds less than last year. He blames the city's overdue bridge project. "The dust, the dirt, the chance of damage from machinery, the lack of accessibility."

He said customers are afraid to leave their cars.

"Jobs that I booked for June, they have moved on. They want their vehicle fixed. I'm just not going to be the one doing it," added Orndorff.

June is the month the bridge should have been completed. City Manager Roger Baker said the construction crew even quit the job for 45 days and he's never been given a good reason why.

He said Wilkins hasn't put the manpower behind the project that it needed.

Baker adds that he and council sympathize with Orndorff and the other businesses and they are looking into what they can do.

Orndorff said he's not looking to make a profit, he just doesn't want to go out of business.

"I'm being put out of business by no fault of my own and that makes it worse than something I had done," he said.

The construction crew is scheduled to pour the concrete for the bridge this Saturday. But it has to set for weeks before traffic can cross it.

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Bridge Information

  • The United States has over 542,000 bridges that consume billions of dollars per year in construction, rehabilitation, and maintenance funds.

  • In a good year, sufficient resources, around $5 billion, are available to improve about 10,000 bridges. Unfortunately about 10,000 more become newly deficient in the same period.

  • Recent studies show that the average life span of highway bridges is about 70 years, and typically, significant rehabilitation is needed when the average bridge reaches mid-life.

  • The above information coupled with the fact that the majority of bridges currently in use were built after 1945 leads to unhappy conclusions for the future.

  • Due to environmental and health regulations, bridge rehabilitation costs are escalating at rates significantly higher than the inflation rate.

What Makes the Best Bridge?

  • Steel reinforced concrete bridges are among the most popular, but the problem with these concrete bridges is that over the years the steel rusts, and as it does it expands, which causes the concrete to crack and spall.

  • Repair or replacement of these concrete bridges would be extremely expensive and would disrupt traffic for months, although the building of them is relatively inexpensive.

  • Steel is stronger and more supple than cast or wrought iron, and allows for greater design flexibility.

  • The main concern with metal bridges is that they corrode, and have defects such as micro-cracks.

  • Many towns, county and state design agencies throughout the US have found that treated, engineered timber bridges are a practical solution to their bridge repair or replacement problems.

  • Another bridge material is timber, and timber bridge maintenance expenses are a fraction of the long term costs associated with steel and concrete bridge structures.

  • There are some concerns from the environmentalists about the use of trees, which are a valuable natural resource.

  • With the help of further research and, two new forms of steel could become more widely available for use in bridges.

  • High performance steel, which uses less steel and costs 20 percent less, but is just as strong; and weathering steel, which resists extensive rusting, meaning states would not have to keep paying to paint bridges.

Source: Web Reports

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