BISMARCK -- The North Dakota Department of Transportation collected core samples Thursday, Dec. 22, as part of an inspection of the Cantepeta Creek Bridge, which has been closed since October fires on the bridge deck during Dakota Access Pipeline protests.

The bridge, also known as Backwater Bridge, is on Highway 1806, north of Cannon Ball.

“Today we were able to successfully conduct testing of the Cantapeta Creek Bridge as a first step in opening the bridge and roadway to traffic,” said Grant Levi, NDDOT director, in a news release. “We appreciate the partnerships with law enforcement and state and tribal leaders to complete this testing while weather conditions allowed.”

The North Dakota Highway Patrol, Morton County Sheriff’s Department, Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and Bureau of Indian Affairs assisted the NDDOT in its inspection.

The inspection included removing the top layer of asphalt from a portion of the bridge, taking core samples from areas that were exposed to the highest heat from the fires and patching areas after the testing was completed, the release said.

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The core samples will be tested to determine if the high heat of the fires compromised the structural integrity of the bridge. The bridge is a unique design consisting of concrete box beams that are the support structure and the deck of the bridge, directly supporting the traffic loads.