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I-90 bridge has bad luck -- hit again after repair

By Bob Mercer

Capitol Correspondent

OKATON -- An insurance company paid $40,000 for repairs after an overheight load smashed into a bridge crossing over Interstate 90 between Okaton and Belvidere.

Now the same bridge at mile marker 177 has been hit again. The damage is much more severe.

And state Department of Transportation officials say they don't have a suspect -- other than it was a vehicle or load at least 16 feet in height traveling westbound in the right lane.

The estimated cost is $270,000 to fix the damage.

The bring will need to straighten two steel beams that were bent, reinforce or replace other steel members that were broken or bent, and remove and replace the damaged sections of concrete deck up top.

The main steel beam distortions can be fixed in-place by a technique called heat-flame straightening, said Kevin Goeden, DOT's chief bridge engineer.

The state Transportation Commission received a briefing last week from Joel Jundt, DOT's director for planning and engineering. He said no one reported the incident.

"Sometimes we don't find them at all. The taxpayers wind up with the cost," Jundt said.