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Kuzitrin Bridge Damaged By “Over Height” Piece of Equipment; DOT Inspections Ongoing

The Kuzitrin Bridge on a cloudy summer day. Photo Credit: Davis Hovey, KNOM (2016)

Due to human error, an excavator damaged the Kuzitrin Bridge earlier this week, causing the Kougarok Road and the bridge to be closed temporarily. The Alaska Department of Transportation (DOT) announced earlier today that the bridge and road have been reopened.

Meadow Bailey, the communications director with DOT, says the damage to the entrance was caused by an excavator on top of a flatbed that was too tall to cross over the bridge.

“There was an over height load that was trying to cross the bridge. Because it was over height it actually hit the portal, the entrance to the bridge. It was too high for the bridge and caused some damage; (it) actually got stuck in the bracing pieces at the top of the bridge.”

In order to repair the Kuzitrin Bridge, Bailey says DOT workers had to wait for bridge inspectors to do their work before the excavator was removed.

“And the reason we did this was because we were concerned that if we just backed the piece of equipment out of there, there might be further damage. So, we made sure that we were able to make some adjustments and safely remove the piece of equipment without adding any damage to it (the bridge).”

The public is allowed to access the bridge again after it was closed for about three days. Bailey says inspections of the bridge are ongoing, and further repairs will have to be made in the future:

“There’ll be repairs in the neighborhood of about $110,000 to $200,000, that’s our estimate right now. And the repairs will actually be to the portal, that overhead entrance part of the bridge, some of the connecting plates there, and then the bracing pieces.”

As far as Bailey and the inspectors can tell, those will be the only other repairs required at the Kuzitrin Bridge at this point in time.

Image at top: file photo: the Kuzitrin Bridge on a cloudy summer day. Photo Credit: Davis Hovey, KNOM (2016).

Note: due to an editing error (a missing set of zeroes), an earlier version of this story stated the Kuzitrin Bridge repairs in the hundreds of dollars rather than hundreds of thousands. The omission has been corrected.