Thousands of bridges at risk of freak collapse

SEATTLE (AP) - Thousands of bridges around the U.S. may be one freak accident or mistake away from collapse, even if the spans are deemed structurally sound.

The consequence of that risk was evident Thursday on Interstate 5 over the Skagit River, where a large section of the bridge collapsed into the water after officials say an oversized truck load clipped the steel truss.

Public officials have focused in recent years on the desperate need for money to repair thousands of bridges deemed structurally deficient.

Missouri ranks seventh in the nation for the number of structurally deficient bridges, according to Transportation for America, with 4,071. That equals 17 percent of the state's bridges. Kansas ranks 24, with 2,851.

Interactive Map | Search area bridges around the metro -

Among the area bridges deemed structurally deficient: The northbound I-35 bridge at Southwest Boulevard, the northbound I-70 bridge at Truman Road and the Kansas Avenue bridge that crosses the Kansas River.

But the bridge that collapsed was not in that category, highlighting a major problem with the nation's infrastructure: Although it's rare, some bridges deemed to be fine structurally can still be crippled if they're struck hard enough in the wrong spot.

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