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Experts say Rainbow Bridge still safe to foot traffic despite being closed down to vehicles

Published: Jan. 21, 2022 at 9:46 PM CST
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - Many drivers going into downtown Birmingham are taking a new route after the city closed down The Richard Arrington Jr. Blvd. Bridge, or The Rainbow Bridge earlier on January 21st. The bridge is still open to foot traffic and experts said it is still safe.

UAB Professor and Graduate Program Director of Civil, Construction, and Environmental Engineering Nassim Uddin said the whole bridge isn’t a problem, but small parts of it are too weak for the weight limit.

The bridge can take up to three tons, but after that it is at risk for failing. Uddin said cars could still pass on it daily and be fine, but the city cant control the number of 18-wheelers and large trucks driving on it. Uddin said that means they cant keep just monitoring it overtime, which is how you keep old bridges operational.

The rainbow bridge is one of almost 600 bridges across the state that need to be replaced, but Uddin said they are still safe for foot traffic.

“It’s safe to cross those bridges because we keep on monitoring them,” Uddin said. “We are making sure they are safe by inspecting them. So, even though on the outside it looks bad, ugly, or crazy, it is being inspected and because the funding is there right now, it will be gradually replaced.”

Uddin said most bridges are built to last around 75 to 100 years and the Rainbow Bridge is more than 100 years old.

The city is working on designs for the new bridge and has not said when construction will begin.

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