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Joliet Bridge Still Showing 'Permanent Deformation' Worrying Engineers

CHICAGO (CBS) -- It's a story we brought you first on CBS 2 about a bridge in Joliet with one of the worst structural ratings in the state.

Now, engineers are talking about what makes bridge so dangerous. CBS 2's Megan Hickey has the story from the I-80 Des Plaines River Bridge in Joliet.

The Illinois Department of Transportation has repeatedly said the bridge is safe, but state inspectors found it to be in such critical condition that it may require closure.

The International Union of Operating Engineers, Local 150 had been waiting patiently for the state report that details each of the structural deficiencies of the bridge.

RELATED: Joliet Residents Worry 'Jenga Bridge' Won't Hold 

What they got was...

"Black, black, black," said the union's Ed Maher, referring to the heavily redacted report. "Because it's so bad, that it would be a threat if people knew how bad it was."

Two documents filled with redactions. IDOT said that the photos and other details were covered up because they revealed vulnerabilities with the bridges.

But Local 150 said the drivers who use them have the right to know.

"People in Joliet are becoming aware of this and they are justifiably concerned," said Maher.

So the union, the same group that took out several alarming billboards cautioning drivers about the state of the bridges, set up their own cameras to try to fill the gaps.

They found tilted rocker bearings used to help support the bridge, heavily degraded concrete on nearly every support section and serious corrosion at the bridge's joints.

For an objective perspective, CBS 2 sent the report and photos to a civil engineer with UIC's College of Engineering.

"There's some permanent deformation," said Didem Ozevin, a civil engineer at UIC.

Ozevin agreed the report is bad, and said the corrosion and the tilted rocker bearings are the most alarming. So much so that she'd think twice about driving over the bridges.

"When I see so many members with aerial loss and deformation that makes me very concerned passing through those bridges," Ozevin said.

IDOT recently awarded a contract for repairs to be completed by 2020. But CBS 2 learned the majority of the work will be bearing replacement  not concrete.

The long term plan would be to completely replace this bridge, but right now funding is still an issue.


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