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The Real Deal: Bridge Safety
ALBANY How safe is the bridge you travel over or under every day? Chances are there are at least one or two on your commute that are in need of major repairs. CBS6 has reviewed bridge inspection data in the Capital region and the numbers might surprise you.
In Albany County, there are 24 structurally deficient bridges and another 113 that are designated as functionally obsolete. In Schenectady County, there are 14 structurally deficient bridges and an additional 37 that are functionally obsolete and in Saratoga County, there are 29 deficient and 35 obsolete bridges.
Weve all traveled over or under a bridge and wondered by the looks of it if it was safe to do so, first of all, if the bridge is open it's safe, we don't open any unsafe bridges, we'll close them in fact if they're unsafe, says Bryan Viggiani, a spokesman for the New York State Department of Transportation.
For years, the Twin bridges and the Patroon Island bridge have been classified as structurally deficient. The DOT says neither was an immediate danger to drivers but it was concerned enough to fast-track both replacement and repair projects when additional funding was made available by the state this year. We look at them every two years and if there's something that they find that may need a closer look or something that raises a cautionary flag in an inspectors mind, we'll inspect that more frequently and if it gets to the point where we need to accelerate one bridge over another, that's obviously something we'd take into account, Viggiani says.
There are dozens of other bridges with that designation in the Capital region that need work too but there is only so much money in the budget so it all comes down to prioritizing. Sometimes it's something that's maybe just on the surface that doesn't need to be addressed immediately but the bridges are looked at to see if they're functioning in a way that they're designed to and if they can handle the loads they are posted for, says Viggiani.
The average lifespan of a bridge is 50-75 years but there are hundreds throughout the state that cars have been traveling over for well past that. Functionally obsolete might mean something is not a danger, it's not unsafe but it's not the way we would build that bridge today, Viggiani says but the DOT will use it until inspectors say otherwise.
To look through your countys inspection data, click here: https://www.dot.ny.gov/main/bridgedata