One in four county bridges in line for upgrades

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Source: Frederick News Post
Author: Kelsi Loos
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Date Published: 10/20/2013

Keeping Maryland’s bridges safe for traffic is a big job. Frank Mills, a State Highway Administration supervisor, oversees 18 inspectors who work in seven teams to check the integrity of bridges and overpasses around the state. “A lot of them work seven days a week,” he said. Inspectors check welds, bearings, cement and guardrails for deficiencies. They also make sure a thick coat of paint is in place to prevent rust damage. “We use pretty simple tools, geology picks, that kind of thing,” Mills said. A geology pick is a small hammer often used to chip rocks. When counties issue a flood warning, like Frederick did earlier this month, crews check bridges for scour — or erosion — on bridge pillars as waters rise. Mills’ crew has thousands of bridges to inspect and keeping up with all of them can be challenging, he said. “We’re always shoveling sand against the tide,” he said.