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Floodwaters, erosion force bridge closure

Access to Route 103 span compromised, restoration unknown

The roadway to the Route 103 bridge from the Glenville side was washed out by floodwaters from the Mohawk River.

The roadway to the Route 103 bridge from the Glenville side was washed out by floodwaters from the Mohawk River. Photo by John Purcell.

— Following heavy rainfall from Tropical Storms Irene and Lee, the Mohawk River essentially carved out a new channel and cut off access to the Route 103 bridge.

The Glenville side of the roadway before the bridge, which is above Lock 9 and connects to Rotterdam Junction, collapsed on Thursday, Sept. 8, but even more of the road washed away the following morning. Carol Breen, spokeswoman of Region 1 of the state Department of Transportation, said floodwaters also had caused damage to the abutments supporting the bridge.

“Once that soil washed away there was nothing to support the pavement anymore,” said Breen. “Late this morning another section of it was washed away … it is basically just a larger section now.”

When the roadway washed away for the second time on Sept. 9, many area bridges were closed as a safety precaution for possible damage, Breen said.

“Our bridge inspectors went on scene and gave it a little time to see what the water was doing to make sure if was 100 percent safe,” she said about the bridge closures.

State officials had monitored the bridge since it was closed following Irene, she said, and the erosion was known to be occurring. As the river flooded, she said, it started to wash away large chunks of soil and eventually it pushed all the way through.

How long the bridge would take to be reopened wasn’t known, said Breen, but a proper analysis will be done once the floodwaters recede. Until then, the road will remain closed to traffic. Designers were onsite Friday afternoon to get an initial idea of needed repairs. The cost of repairs is also unknown.

“Once we have that complete evaluation we will be able to have a complete idea,” Breen said. “We don’t have a good cost estimate at this point, but it will hopefully be a mix of federal and state funding.”

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