New York State Exposed: The worst rated bridges

Updated: 05/08/2014 5:21 PM
Created: 05/08/2014 3:57 PM WHEC.com
By: Brett Davidsen

How safe are the bridges you drive over? After the state suddenly closed a bridge used by tens of thousands of people every day, News10NBC wanted to know if other bridges in the area could face the same fate.

The Chili Avenue Bridge goes over the Erie Canal from Rochester to Gates. The state shut it down Tuesday night after crews found steel deterioration. On Wednesday, we learned that the state has a rating system for structural integrity. So are there other bridges in worse shape than the Chili Avenue Bridge? 

The Chili Avenue Bridge was closed for maintenance just last summer. Despite being closed again, it isn’t even one of the worst rated by the New York State Department of Transportation.  

When painting crews noticed advanced deterioration on the steel of the Chili Avenue Bridge, it prompted an immediate closure of the structure by the state DOT. Inspectors say the serious problems are on the underside of the bridge on a critical beam. According to state records, the Chili Avenue Bridge was last inspected in November 2012 and was given a rating of 4.31. Anything under five means the bridge is considered "structurally deficient" and in need of maintenance, but that doesn't necessarily mean repairs are imminent.

Lori Maher, New York State Department of Transportation, said, “Obviously, it's very expensive to do all the proper maintenance and we don't have enough money to do all the needs. That would be great but that's not realistic, so we have to prioritize the most important bridges, the most important elements of the bridge.”

Looking at the data, News10NBC found dozens and dozens of bridges in Monroe County rated even lower than the Chili Avenue Bridge. 

The worst rated is the I-490 Bridge that passes over Marsh Road in Pittsford. It was built in 1955 and it has a rating of 3.42. The concrete is breaking away, exposing the re-bar in many places. The steel beams are rusted and two of the bridge’s pillars have been re-enforced with support beams. It was last inspected in June 2013.

Crews are working on the Bay View Road overpass at Route 590 is now under repair in Irondequoit. 

Mike Nicosia, Irondequoit resident, said, “The bridge did look like it was in rough shape, very bad shape.”

According to the state records, it was built in 1957 and had a 3.67 rating. It was among the worst rated in the county. Like Chili Avenue, motorists are now facing detours. 

Tom DioGuardi, Irondequoit resident, said, “It is just annoying that it is down, but if it is for the betterment of the community, I wouldn’t want them to not do it.”

As for the bridge over Marsh Road, a DOT spokesperson says that bridge will be replaced. It is currently in the design phase while they identify construction funding, but there's not scheduled start date. The DOT also emphasized that bridge has been inspected and there are no imminent concerns.

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