BREAKING: Demolition of the Belfast Road Bridge is starting this week, nearly a year after the structure was deemed unsafe and suddenly closed to traffic, but it will be nearly two more years before a replacement will enable motorists to cross the Genesee River.
Allegany County Public Works Superintendent Thomas Windus says the $570,000 bridge removal project at the end of Hughes Street in the hamlet is scheduled for completion in April under an expedited process approved by the state and federal governments, which are providing the bulk of the funding, and segmented from the overall $8.3 million replacement plan.
The bridge was closed on February 2 of last year after an inspection found the structure to be shifting, creating a “dangerous situation” for a potential bridge collapse, according to Windus.
The superintendent previously reported to the county Board of Legislators that conditions have continued to deteriorate since the closure, with canoeists being warned last summer not to travel under the structure.
Half-century old bridge
He said the structure was opened in 1975 under an emergency construction design project resulting from a flood three years earlier.
Unfortunately, the pilings were driven straight into the ground and didn’t turn outward to provide a more solid base, causing them to shift after some half-century.
Windus said separations are occurring on the west end of the two-span structure but due to the manner in which the spans were constructed, the entire bridge will need to be demolished and replaced.
New construction to start this fall
The superintendent said he expects construction to start this fall and be completed approximately a year later.
Emergency vehicles, school buses and other transportation will continue a serveral miles detour until the new structure is in place.
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