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Concerns rise over deteriorating bridges
by Evan White
Gates, N.Y.Tuesday night a bridge that carries 16,000 through Rochester and Gates each day was abruptly shut down.
It is far from the only one of the hundreds of area bridges that are in disrepair; either in need of repair or replacement.
One third of our bridges are deficient, said Mark Assini, Gates Town Supervisor and member of the Genesee Transportation Council.
It is a major wakeup call to all residents and state and federal officials that something has to change quickly or were all at risk, stated Assini.
There are 750 bridges owned by the state within the region, according to the Department of Transportation.
We have to prioritize the most important bridges, said Lori Maher, spokesperson for the D.O.T. The most important elements of the bridge.
The state has about $3.8 billion for highway and bridge repair, though all but $800 million go to debt service and operations, according to Rich Perrin, Executive Director of the Genesee Transportation Council.
The federal Highway Trust Fund is the other funding stream for highways and bridges, though it is funded through a gas tax that has not risen in twenty years, added Perrin.
If we dont want to see more closures like we saw on the Chili Avenue bridge over the Erie Canal, people have to get out and make their representatives aware that transportation is a priority and that the funding for it has been commensurate, said Rich Perrin, President of the Genesee Transportation Council.
As for the Chili Avenue Bridge, one considered structurally deficient, meaning it needs work, though is not considered dangerous, according to the D.O.T. It had been inspected as recently as 2012, and work took place on it last year for other needs.
A painting crew detected further deterioration that led to its closure.
The D.O.T. said that discovery was a function of its preventative work.
The GTC which controls the way federal highway dollars are funneled locally said it plans to further study the issue and determine how to prioritize funding if additional funding does not come and take some of the structures out of the equation, according to Perrin.
A Senate aide tells 13WHAM News a new transportation bill is expected to be unveiled in the U.S. Senate next week.