Work begins on bridge rehabs

— There are more than 17,000 bridges in New York State—some so small it’s hard to tell exactly what they span, others massive fixtures and icons—and with $19.9 million being distributed through Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s NY Works program, 11 of those bridges will get a major makeover through next year.

Construction on the Congress Street Bridge that links Troy and Watervliet began on Tuesday, July 3, and is expected to be completed by 2013.

“Five bridges are being started and completed this year and another five will be started and completed next year,” said Carol Breen, spokesperson for the New York State Department of Transportation.

The 11 bridges targeted by the governor’s NY Works program, which he included in the 2012-13 budget to improve Capital District infrastructure, will get a “deck” replacement, a fancy word for the driving surface. The improvements will bring bridge conditions from a “fair” classification to “good.”

Breen said the group of bridges were chosen based on how easy rehabilitation would be, thus allowing a large amount of bridges to be improved in a short period of time.

“We were looking at bridges that … didn’t include a lot of environmental permitting that sometimes takes time to get through; projects that didn’t require us acquiring any land, which also takes time,” said Breen. “Bridges in a certain condition where we could just go in, replace the deck and get out of there quickly and easily.”

Bridges are expected to last between 50 and 75 years and are inspected at least every two years. Breen said repairs are always completed when necessary, so the 11 bridges getting the NY Works treatment would have been addressed eventually. The funding up front just helped that happen sooner rather than later.

“They would have been done but they would have been done down the road. … We would have had to wait on these bridges and some would have been in worse condition by the time we could get to them,” said Breen.

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