Richardson orders review of four bridges

Freedom Newspapers

LOGAN — A bridge on U.S. 54 near Logan is one of four steel-truss bridges in New Mexico that will undergo a comprehensive inspection, Gov. Bill Richardson announced Thursday.

The bridges are built similar to the one that collapsed Wednesday on 1-35 in Minneapolis, which resulted in four deaths, 79 injured and at least 30 people missing.

“In light of the bridge collapse in Minneapolis, I’m ordering the Department of Transportation to take proactive steps to ensure our bridges are safe,” said Richardson in the release.

The U.S. 54 bridge is just east of the village of Logan’s city limits and crosses the Canadian River. The route is used by thousands of vacationers and residents to get to Ute Lake, and is a main connector throughout the Midwest.

“I’m all for it,” said Logan City Manager Larry Wallin. “I just came across it 10 minutes ago. We’re all for it because of public safety concerns.”

The Logan bridge was opened in June 1954.

A June 1954 Tucumcari Daily News report called the bridge a “modern, well-constructed structure between 70 and 75 feet high and more than 700 feet long.” It replaced a “rickety, one-way structure which was the scene of more than one fatal accident throughout the years,” the News reported.

The Logan bridge was renovated about eight to 10 years ago, Wallin said.

The location of the three other bridges in New Mexico to be inspected are:

• I-25 near Nogales Canyon (Northbound and Southbound)

• U.S. 64 Gorge Bridge near Taos

• U.S. 64 near Shiprock

New Mexico already has an inspection program that identifies bridges in need of repairs or replacement every two years. When necessary, additional inspections are done and action is taken on bridges identified as deficient, Richardson said.

Transportation Secretary Rhonda Faught assured New Mexicans that the state’s bridges are safe.

“If we have even a slightest of doubts on the structural integrity of a bridge, we conduct a thorough inspection to ensure we do not endanger public safety,” she said. “If we determine if a bridge is not safe, we either post weight restrictions or we shut it down.”

Department of Transportation spokesman S.U. Mahesh said the inspections should be completed within a week.