Hundreds of bridges across the state are under scrutiny over how badly they need fixing, and dozens are here in South Florida. The Nightteam’s Karen Hensel has this bridge breakdown in tonight’s 7 Investigates.

Driving in Florida can be a trip, from terrible traffic to speed demons to the unexpected. Like in June, when this car carrier smashed into an overpass in Dania Beach, but what you may not notice on your daily drive can also be concerning. 

Yaniv Levi, contractor: “You know, when I saw this, I was pretty alarmed.”

Yaniv Levi is a licensed general contractor. After a tip from a worried viewer, we asked Yaniv and his civil engineer to inspect the Sheridan Street bridge over the Florida Turnpike in Broward County.

Yaniv Levi: “Any time you have rebar or reinforcements exposed like this on any type of structure, it’s alarming.”

Karen Hensel: “On a scale of one to 10, how bad is this?” 

Yaniv Levi: “Looks like about a six or a seven.”

We found cracking, chunks of concrete missing and exposed rusty rebar under the overpass in both the north and southbound lanes.

Karen Hensel: “So when you see something like that that’s got so much rebar exposed, what are you looking at?” 

Yaniv Levi: “All that rebar is exposed to the elements. That’s potential for water intrusion, corrosion to spread in the rebar. Not only that. It’s obvious that the structural integrity of these joists have been compromised.”

The trouble on the Turnpike can be traced back to a tractor trailer crash in March of 2019. A backhoe on the truck was too tall to fit underneath, instead smashing into the bridge. 

The bridge was hit again in April, sending debris onto a car and a passenger to the hospital. Yaniv fears there could be more falling debris from an already damaged overpass. 

Yaniv Levi: “You have a lot of cars driving, so that movement can cause the structure to shake, to tremble, and some of that debris can actually fall down, God forbid, on another vehicle.”

FDOT performed an “emergency bridge inspection,” and they “deemed the bridge to be safe for travel.” Repairs are scheduled to begin this month.

Meanwhile, in Monroe County, a viewer sent these pictures of the Channel #5 bridge in the Keys, near Islamorada. He wrote to us: “While millions of people travel back and forth over the overseas highway, they don’t see the danger lurking beneath.” Yaniv also sees issues.

Yaniv Levi: “Any time you have rebar that’s exposed like this, you don’t have enough concrete coverage. You have clear signs of the corrosion, the rust. That’s a bad sign.”

A recent report from a major road building association shows how bad it is, listing 459 structurally deficient bridges in Florida classified as “poor or worse condition,” and federal data shows 82 of those bad bridges are in Miami-Dade and Broward counties, including the Sheridan Street Bridge.

Yaniv Levi: “Corrosion is like a cancer. It’s just going to spread through the bridge and other areas will fail because of the damage that was done and not addressed properly.”

The state says more than a thousand bridges are in need of repair. The estimated cost to fix them? $4.1 billion. We have a list of all the structurally deficient bridges in Florida on our website wsvn.com. 

Karen Hensel, 7News.

To search for information on bad bridges, click here.

Step by step:
1) Go to the infobridge website Data: LTBPInfoBridge.dot.gov
2) Search – by state name Florida and bridge condition – which is “poor”
3) Click “Show Bridges”

CONTACT 7INVESTIGATES:
305-627-CLUE
954-921-CLUE
7Investigates@wsvn.com

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