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New York's Hudson Valley bridges deemed 'fracture -critical'

By Leigh Goessl     Oct 24, 2011 in Politics
Three primary bridges in the Hudson Valley region of New York State, spanning across the Hudson River, have been recently deemed "fracture-critical" according to a new report released by the Transportation for America coalition.
Your News Now explains "fracture-critical" means "if a key support beam fails, the bridge is going down and collapsing."
LoHud.com, a Gannett publication that focuses on the lower Hudson Valley area and its counties, reports,
"The term 'fracture critical,' which is an industry-standard term, should not be confused with the mistaken notion that a bridge is unsafe," state Department of Transportation spokesman Bill Reynolds said in a statement. "If a bridge is unsafe, we close it."
The three regional Hudson Valley bridges are the Tappan-Zee Bridge, Bear Mountain Bridge and Newburgh-Beacon Bridge. All of these bridges are highly traveled crossings and many people rely upon these bridges for work, leisure travel, long-distance travel, shopping and more.
The New York State Bridge Authority indicates the fact these bridges make the list is not surprising.
"They're category fives, which is the best a bridge of their age can be. A seven being a brand new bridge," said New York State Bridge Authority 's Executive Director, Joe Ruggiero.
This doesn't mean the bridges aren't safe says the Bridge Authority. Inspections are conducted every other year and these bridges are slotted to have some improvements done over the next five years.
"We're constantly looking at those critical elements of the bridge to make sure, because of the ages of the bridge, they're properly maintained," Ruggiero said in Your News Now's report.
While all the bridges see their fair share of consistent traffic, the Tappan Zee Bridge sees far more than its able to handle. This extended bridge connects Westchester and Rockland Counties, two counties that are located just north of New York City and northern New Jersey.
The Tappan Zee crosses one of the widest sections of the Hudson River, and has long been the scrutiny of many people, with many locals questioning its safety for years; this bridge is operated by the New York Thruway Authority. Back in 2006 ABC News reported how the bridge is handling 40 percent more traffic than its original design planned for in terms of capacity. Inspection had showed substantial wear and tear on the Tappan Zee.
There may be a solution in the Hudson Valley's future, however, which may or may not solve the problem, either way, the safety of the Tappan Zee currently has high priority, and this directive comes the White House according to sources.
On Tuesday, Oct. 24, the public is invited to a briefing to get a first glance at the new renovations planned. The revamp is a $5.2 billion plan and plans to expand the bridge to a probably much-needed eight lanes, however many other details still need to be hammered out as there are other questions/issues which need addressing.
If this plan goes forward, the Tappan Zee will see construction start in 2013 with completion estimated in 2017.
LoHud.com also reported nearly 1,100 bridges in New York are categorized as "fracture-critical", several of these major bridges are located in New York City and western New York; this figure is six percent of the total bridges spanning various waterways across the state.
More about hudson valley, Hudson river, tappan zee bridge, bear mountain bridge, NewburghBeacon Bridge
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