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How do officials decide if a bridge or road in Houston needs repair?

Image of the Spur 527 bridge in July 2019.
Image of the Spur 527 bridge in July 2019.

HOUSTON – You might recall recently a portion of Spur 527 into downtown was closed after part of the deck fell. A 200-pound chunk of concrete to be exact. 

According to the Texas Department of Transportation and the City of Houston Public Works Department, this was a 50-year-old structure and was closed to ensure the public's safety and to bring the bridge up to current standards.

That structure is just one of 1,400 bridges in Houston that are inspected every six months.

So what do officials look for before concrete starts falling? 

We connected with Frank Leong of TxDOT and Walter Hambrick of the Public Works Department to find out.

Officials said they look for things like joints, barriers, edges and walls, and note their condition. They inspect the paint, the decking, drainage, cracking, columns and look for more wear than the average. 

They note how it feels to ride over the bridge and also look back on previous inspections to list what has gotten worse.

To determine if the bridge is in bad shape, inspectors look for environmental factors too like heat, humidity and moisture that may lead to impact the quality of a bridge over time. 

Houston's proximity to the ocean and salt water are a factor to drive detonation. The number of crashes on a highway are considered as well. The amount of heavy traffic can also breakdown the conditions of a bridge faster.

If you notice a bridge that you think may be deteriorating, call 311 to report it.