Oahu's bridges are inspected

Tammy Mori
Tammy Mori
Dwight Okawa
Dwight Okawa

By Tracy Gladden - bio | email

KUNIA (KHNL) - One year ago an interstate bridge collapsed killing 13 people in Minnesota. That accident brought national interest to the safety and maintenance of bridges.

KHNL News 8 followed a team of structural engineers as they inspected bridges on Oahu.

Just one year ago Hawaii had hundreds of bridges behind schedule for maintenance and repairs.

"Last year there were about 400 bridges that were behind schedule on inspections and I'm proud to say because of their hard work the bridge inspectors and consultants that we hired as of April 2008, 100 percent of our bridges were up to date," said Tammy Mori spokesperson for the Department of Transportation.

All bridges in Hawaii are inspected every two years as mandated by the Federal Highway Administration. Bridges over water are inspected by divers every five years. Dwight Okawa and his team of structural engineers inspect the Kunia overpass on the H1 freeway.

"Basically were looking for safety features on the bridge for instance the approach guard rails, the parapets, and things like that on the bridge to make sure it's safe for the traveling public," bridge inspector Dwight Okawa said.

This year, the Department of Transportation says every bridge in Hawaii is safe.

"In Hawaii like this Kunia bridge you see in the background it's very redundant, there are multiple girders on the bridge to support it so even if one girder fails, the whole bridge will not come down."

Okawa says bridges built before the 1950's were not designed to carry the heavy loads semi trucks currently carry.

"The bridges in rural areas such as in Hana and maybe on the East side of Kauai, some of those bridges are very old, they are in the 1920's 1910 vintage and have already reached their usefulness of lifespan," Okawa said.

The State has a program to replace those bridges.