County to begin inspections on smaller bridges

All 210 bridges on roadways maintained by Carroll County will be inspected in 2015, including 21 that are too short to qualify for federal funding, thanks a county agreement with the state that will allow for the short bridges to be reviewed.

Carroll County's Board of Commissioners have granted the Bureau of Engineering permission to piggyback an agreement with the State Highway Administration to inspect the 21 short bridges owned by county government.


Debbie Butler, chief of the bureau, said the county will be inspecting all 210 county-owned bridges in 2015.

"Any [bridge] over 20 feet is covered by federal funding," Butler said. "Anything less will be covered by [this contract]."


The majority of federal funding received by the state goes toward bridge repair and maintenance, and every bridge is eligible for federal funding up to 80 percent, Ted Zaleski, director of the Department of Management and Budget said in February.

The cost to inspect these 21 bridges is more than $50,000, which equates to roughly $2,380 per bridge for inspection and the subsequent report to the county government.

The firm conducting the inspections will be the Wilson T. Ballard Company, a civil engineering business based in Owings Mills.

Of the 21 bridges affected by the recent action, 15 were rated as not deficient, three as structurally deficient and three as functionally obsolete in a 2013 state bridge inspection program.

Structurally deficient means at least one of a bridge's ranked criteria, including the condition of its deck, superstructure, substructure or a culvert's structure, is coded more serious in nature, usually due to a significant defect. State officials say the bridges receiving low marks are not regarded as dangerous.

Chuck Gischlar, spokesman for the State Highway Administration, said the majority of bridges rated as structurally deficient or functionally obsolete are rated due to degradation of the roadway or sidewalks, and normally not a criteria that would result in dangerous conditions.

"We will never let people drive on a dangerous bridge," Gischlar said.

The bridge on Hollingsworth Road in Reisterstown, the bridge on Cape Horn Road North in Westminster, and the bridge on Starners Dam Road in Taneytown that crosses the Monocacy River are considered structurally deficient.


Structurally deficient does not mean the structure is not safe, but does indicate a detailed evaluation is needed to determine what, if any, repairs are needed, according to Butler.

Functionally obsolete means the design of the bridge is inappropriate for its current use. This can be due to its inability to handle existing traffic or the weight of vehicles traversing it, among other factors.

The bridge on Stem Road in Union Bridge that crosses Wolf Pit Branch, the bridge on Niner Road in Finksburg that crosses Middle Run and the bridge on Hawks Hill Road that crosses a tributary of Little Pipe Creek have been assessed as functionally obsolete.

Once the inspections are complete, the county will receive recommendations from Wilson T. Ballard on which bridges remain not deficient, which have been downgraded to deficient or functionally obsolete, and what repairs — if any — should be considered.

Butler said the bureau has various funding sources it can tap if immediate maintenance is needed. These include established funds for structural repairs and bridge painting, among others, she said.



Bridges to be inspected

• McKinstrys Mill Road, Union Bridge (crosses a tributary of Little Pipe Creek)

Davis Road, Woodbine (crosses Cabbage Spring Branch)

Falls Road, Manchester (crosses Indian Run)


Wentz Road, Manchester (crosses an unnamed stream)

Sullivan Road, Westminster (crosses West Branch Patapsco River)

Stem Road, Union Bridge (crosses Wolf Pit Branch)

Obrecht Road, Sykesville (crosses Piney Branch)

Niner Road, Finksburg (crosses Middle Run)

Hollingsworth Road, Reisterstown (crosses an unnamed stream)


Cape Horn Road North, Westminster (crosses an unnamed stream)

Hoover Mill Road, Manchester (crosses Big Pipe Creek)

Warfieldsburg Road, Westminster (crosses Little Morgan Run)

Old Bachmans Valley Road, Westminster (crosses Big Pipe Creek)

Grand Valley Road, Carroll County-Pennsylvania line (crosses Long Arm Creek)

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Stoney Lane, Manchester (crosses South Branch Gunpowder Falls)


Gera Way, Sykesville (crosses a tributary of Little Morgan Run)

Bucher John Road, Union Bridge (crosses a tributary of Haynes Branch)

Natures Way Culvert, Woodbine (crosses a branch of Gillis Falls)

Starners Dam Road, Taneytown (crosses Monocacy River)

Hawks Mill Road, New Windsor (crosses a tributary of Little Pipe Creek)

Clear View Road, Union Bridge (crosses Meadow Branch)