With the river running high, Reno’s bridges are inspected

Truckee River levels are supposed to rise but the city of Reno said bridges over it are safe.
Published: May. 25, 2023 at 6:39 PM PDT
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RENO, Nev. (KOLO) -Longtime residents have seen what the Truckee can do, but in spite of our recent unusual weather and worries in neighboring counties the river is not expected to breach its banks in the coming weeks. But there’s still good reason to pay special attention to structures that border and span the river when it’s like this.

The bridges crossing the Truckee as it passes through town have weathered high water before and over time that wear and tear can add up. That’s especially true of 11 of the city’s bridges identified as ‘scour critical,’ those with piers or abutments in the rushing water. Over time, the current can dig away or scour the riverbed.

“Scouring is when water runs up and hits the piers or abutments around the bridges,” says Jon Simpson of the Public Works Department. “And sometimes you can’t see it, it’s below the surface of the water. It can scour and cause the soil to move and create holes beneath the water that are hard to see.” And over time that weakens the foundation of the bridge itself.

So, when the river flow reaches a certain level, it’s time for inspection. They’re looking for debris gathering against piers and abutments, any signs of erosion, signs that scouring may be taking place.

To date, they haven’t found anything worrisome. The bridges are safe. But some have been standing for a long time and are already scheduled for replacement.

The Arlington Bridge, the Sierra Street Bridge and the Keystone Bridge are next on the schedule to be replaced.

The Truckee will continue to flow, often lazily, occasionally like it is now and any bridge which spans it will warrant inspection.