State-issued inspection reports released on Friday in the wake of a corroded light fixture tumbling onto a ramp of the Maurice J. Tobin Memorial Bridge show that the 62-year-old structure is in “fair” condition with some “severe” structural deficiencies.
The structure of the bridge, which is currently undergoing a $45 million repainting and rehabilitation, was downgraded from a rating of 6, or “satisfactory”condition, in a 2009 state Department of Transportation inspection report to a 5, or “fair” condition, in its most recent 2011 report.
“We base our inspections on the overall rating of the bridge. While some elements of the structure are showing greater signs of wear … the structure as a whole is sound,” said MassDOT spokeswoman Cyndi Roy. “If the rating were to decrease to a 4 (or poor) we would then begin annual inspections of the bridge, versus the current schedule of every two years — the national standard.”
The area where the bridge deteriorated the most from 2009 and 2011 was in its girders and beams, now rated as having “severe/major deficiency.” Deteriorated and cracked concrete parts of the bridge’s substructure columns also were given the same “severe” rating in both the 2009 and 2011 reports.
“It’s not totally unacceptable to have some level of corrosion, especially given the bridge’s location right on the harbor, where the mist and salt lend to creating some corrosion,” Roy added.
The DOT released the bridge reports after holding a press conference to announce that crews overnight Thursday removed seven spotlights from the bridge after one of the lights — there are total of 18 on the bridge — broke free from a bracket under the Tobin’s upper deck and came crashing down onto an approach ramp to Route 1 in Charlestown.