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Questions about Bay Bridge

Irondequoit, N.Y. -- Questions about lane closures and the safety of the Irondequoit Bay Bridge are surfacing and Monroe Countys Executive is asking the state for answers.

13WHAM News obtained a letter that Monroe County Executive Maggie Brooks sent to the New York State Department of Transportation on Tuesday.  In it Brooks explains that she is a Webster resident and one of the estimated 65,000 vehicles crossing the bridge every day.

Read the letter here.

Brooks asked the NYSDOT for a meeting and to provide a copy of the states most recent inspection report as well as a short and long-term plan and outlook for safe and functional use of the bridge.

"The lanes are still closed, Brooks said referring to the two outside lanes of the Bay Bridge that have remained closed since October.  People are merging to the center of the bridge on both sides going in each direction and I'm not seeing work being done.

"Another point of asking the state for information is that rumors aren't good, speculation isn't good, Brooks continued.  Facts are a good thing because that will make everyone feel more comfortable so we need to have some facts.

13WHAM News has monitored traffic on the Bay Bridge for more than a week and noticed no evidence of work crews despite the lane closures.

Upon learning of Brooks letter, the NYSDOT sat down with 13WHAM News on Thursday to explain the situation.  Engineer John Starke explained that following a Joint Replacement project this past summer an August inspection revealed a slight bend in four steel floor beams located near the joints of the bridge.  The bends were described as no greater than a quarter-inch in length but it was enough to prompt further inspection.

Starke said the DOT built a platform to gain better access to the impacted area and spent the last few months photographing, measuring, and analyzing the area in question.

"It proves the system works, this has worked exactly the way it's supposed to work, Starke explained.  The inspector went out, he found what we call a red flag (or) something that made him concerned, and started the process and within a few months we had a platform built and we were out there taking a lot of measurements.

The NYSDOT chose to close the outer two lanes as a precaution as those are the lanes nearest the bend in the beams.  In addition, traffic flow on those lanes could place additional strain on those beams.

But Starke said no change or additional damage was noticed by inspectors and a more permanent fix is in the works.  Plans to reinforce that area are in the works and work could be completed by late March or April.

Once we get these repairs done that beam will be stronger than it was the day it was built, explained Starke.  We're adding a plate that is thicker than the original bottom of that beam so once we bolt on that on there, it can take more load than it ever has been able to in the past.

Brooks said she looks forward to meeting with the NYSDOT and her team to better understand this process and scrutinize the overall safety of this structure.

A NYSDOT spokeswoman said the agency will respond to the County Executives letter and schedule a meeting if it is needed.

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Washington Times