Updated: 09/13/2013 6:25 PM
Created: 09/13/2013 5:17 PM WHEC.com
It may have come as a surprise to drivers on the Lake Ontario State Parkway, as the state closes two bridges after discovering serious problems. Most of us don't think twice when we drive or walk over the bridges in our area, but should we?
Two bridges in Hamlin shut down for repairs Friday over serious safety concerns. But I-Team 10 found out officials had red-flagged one of them during an inspection months ago. So what about the other bridges in our area?
The decision to close the parkway bridges was sudden and unplanned. In fact, when I-Team 10 came out to take a look Friday morning, the traffic had not yet been detoured. Paul Lapinski, of Hamlin, drove over the eastbound bridge as he does so often.
Paul Lapinski said, "If they're unsafe, they ought to be closed. There's no doubt about that. If they're creating a hazard or possible hazard, that's the thing to do. Close the bridges."
The bridges were built in 1971 and don't appear to have had any major reconstruction since.
But in April, a DOT inspection discovered a major problem. I-Team 10 obtained a copy of the inspection report and it red-flagged the bridge after engineers found a six inch crack in one of the bearings. That's the metal base that attaches the bridge to the concrete abutment. The DOT closed one of the lanes in April.
Lori Maher, DOT spokeswoman, said, "Because we were working on a repair plan to address that is when we found out there was some more pervasive issues we needed to look at."
About 1,500 vehicles pass over these bridges each day.
News10NBC's Brett Davidsen asked, “From the time in the spring when you first discovered there were some issues, until now, was it safe for traffic to be traveling over it?
Maher said, "It was certainly safe until today. Again, it is closed as a precaution because we don't know how much it can carry."
I-Team 10 wanted to know if there are other bridges locally experiencing the same problems. The DOT said no, but I-Team 10 found out there were only a few built with the same design. We checked the database of bridges in Monroe County Friday and there are about five dozen that are listed as structurally deficient. The state says that only means they require significant maintenance and repair. I they were unsafe, they'd be closed. According to the DOT, all bridges are inspected at least every two years and more frequently when issues are detected like the parkway bridges.
Lapinski said, "I think they should never get to the shape of that bridge. If you look straight ahead of you, you'll see all the rust hanging over on the side. I don't know how much that affects the safety of the bridge, but it's certainly a precaution that something is happening."
The DOT doesn't yet know how it will fix the bridges, how to pay for the unplanned repairs or how long it will take.They are warning motorists that it could be several months before they reopen.
To see how the bridges near you rate, click here.