Pier Problem Poses No Threat to Bismarck Bridge Construction

Sat September 22, 2007 - Midwest Edition

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) A new bridge under construction over the Missouri River between Bismarck and Mandan has a problem with one of its piers, but officials say it poses no threat to the pier’s structural integrity.

Inspectors noticed that a thin layer of concrete had separated from the rest of the concrete on the pier, said Terri Wilhelm, a spokeswoman for the North Dakota Department of Transportation.

“It’s something that happens in any type of project where concrete is involved,” Wilhelm said.

Bridge integrity issues have been in the spotlight since the Aug. 1 Minneapolis bridge collapse. Kevin Levi, a district engineer for the North Dakota Department of Transportation, said the integrity of the Missouri River bridge has not been compromised. Workers will repair the problem before they move forward with the rest of the construction project, he said.

The bridge will eventually replace the original Liberty Memorial Bridge, which was the first car bridge to span the Missouri. The original two-lane bridge was built 85 years ago and carries an average of about 15,000 vehicles per day between Mandan and Bismarck.

The new span, which will cost $47 million and will feature four lanes, is expected to handle up to 19,000 vehicles per day, officials said.