New York State Exposed Follow-up: Deteriorating bridges

Updated: 05/29/2014 7:35 PM
Created: 05/29/2014 7:26 AM WHEC.com
By: Brett Davidsen

What if there was an emergency in your neighborhood, but it took firefighters a longer time to get there because of a deficient bridge? News10NBC showed you a list of the worst rated bridges in our area. One of the bridges that viewers complained about was over the canal in Bushnell’s Basin. Firefighters, town officials and homeowners are also concerned.

News10NBC has been talking a lot lately about bridges in need of repairs and the inconvenience to drivers when one is closed, but there's another side to this story and that's public safety.News10NBC found out that in one neighborhood, emergency vehicles now have to take a longer route because of a deficient bridge.

Cindy Shuman said, "We were always grateful that the fire hall was close and if we had any issues or problems they'd be able to be here."

Cindy Shuman can practically see the Bushnell’s Basin Fire Station from her backyard. It’s directly across the canal from her home on Peachtree Lane off Marsh Road, but if there were to be an emergency, those fire trucks wouldn't get to her neighborhood as quickly as they used to. That’s because this nearby bridge is in need of important repairs. 

Built in 1912, the Marsh Road Canal Bridge is considered structurally deficient. The state has plans to eventually fix the bridge, but in the meantime, it has posted a weight limit of eight tons, which means fire trucks are off limits.   

Gregory Gulick, Bushnell’s Basin Fire Chief, said, "Our trucks are upwards of about 40,000 pounds, so about 20 tons. Our concern, obviously, is that everybody in our district has the same level of service, whether it's on the Marsh Road area or anywhere else in our district."

With the bridge out of service for fire and rescue vehicles, Gulick says they can turn to other nearby districts or take an alternate route. From the fire station to Shuman's home is about half a mile using the Marsh Road Bridge. Right now, those fire trucks must take the long way around adding about four extra miles to the trip. 

Mike Barker, Perinton Town Supervisor, said, "It's not acceptable that long a response time that it takes. It could be the difference between 14 and 7 minutes depending on everything that happens. That's why we want to get it fixed."

Barker says he's been told by the New York State Department of Transportation that the bridge is scheduled for repairs in a year and a half from now. So why are residents in the Marsh Road neighborhood forced to wait that long for repairs when the state department of transportation was able to re-open the Chili Avenue Bridge just two weeks after major structural problems were discovered.

Brian McMahon, Department of Transportation, said, "Chili Avenue sees a lot more traffic and that made the situation where we felt we had to do something immediately and Marsh Road, unfortunately, is one of those that doesn't carry as much traffic ."

Gulick said, "A fire truck doesn't go over that bridge each and every day and I think that gets forgotten about. Obviously, public safety needs to be first and foremost."

The DOT says another reason the Chili Avenue Bridge moved to the front of the line for repairs is that the work was minimal compared to other bridges, like Marsh Road, where the work is more extensive.

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