Cook County line. Submitted photo
Submitted photo

Nearly 25 percent of bridges in Cook County in need of repair

Cook County has a bridge problem.

According to a 2019 Minnesota Department of Transportation bridge survey, more than 22 percent of the bridges on local roadways are considered structurally deficient or functionally obsolete. Bridges with this condition status are considered unsafe and a safety hazard, according to Cook County Highway Engineer Robbie Hass.

In Cook County, Bridge Roster13 of the recognized 58 recognized bridges are listed as either structurally deficient or functionally obsolete. State officials have the authority to shut down roads where these bridges needing repair are located, Hass mentioned during a committee of the whole work session with the Cook County Board of Commissioners on Jan. 19. The bridges needing repair are dispersed throughout the county, from the Gunflint Trail to the remote roads over creeks that flow toward Lake Superior.

Hass shared a variety of facts, data and information with the intent to facilitate a discussion regarding the future plans of the highway department, namely the use of the county levy as a means of funding for local projects involving roads and bridges on county roads, heavy equipment replacement and day-to-day operations. Board Chair Dave Mills called the comprehensive summary from the highway department and the condition of the local bridges “a sobering report.”

WTIP’s Joe Friedrichs spoke with Hass about the status of local bridges and related budgetary planning for the local highway department. The audio below is their full conversation.