Volume 20, Number 34 | The Newspaper of Lower Manhattan | Jan. 4 -10, 2008
"Support businesses and organizations that support Downtown Express"
Downtown Express file photo by Elisabeth Robert
The Brooklyn Bridge, above, has been give two yellow flags and the Manhattan Bridge has received one from the state Dept. of Transportation, but both are still considered safe to stay open.
State raises yellow flags on two Downtown bridges
Steel beams on the Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridges are decaying, but the bridges are still safe to travel, the State Department of Transportation announced last month.
State D.O.T. reported these findings after recent inspections of the state’s bridges, spurred by the fatal Interstate 35 bridge collapse last August in Minneapolis. The results show that all 49 of New York State’s deck truss bridges, the same type as the Minneapolis bridge, are safe.
However, the Brooklyn Bridge received two yellow flags for decaying steel beams and three safety flags for concrete deterioration, a hole in the maintenance walkway and a hole in the netting used to catch falling debris. The bridge was inspected Sept. 27 and received a safety rating of 2.92. A rating below 5.0 on the 1-to-7 scale is considered deficient.
The Manhattan Bridge received one yellow flag for decay on a vertical part of a steel truss. It was inspected Sept. 30, 2007 and received a safety rating of 4.36.
Yellow-flagged bridges will be inspected annually, rather than every two years, said Skip Carrier, spokesperson for the State D.O.T. The yellow flags are like a yellow traffic light, Carrier said they’re not entirely safe but they’re not illegal.
“The yellow flag is less critical [than a red flag], but it requires action or monitoring,” Carrier said. “You can’t ignore it, or it could become more significant.”
The safety flags are less serious and do not affect the structural integrity of the bridge. The D.O.T. likens them to cracks on a sidewalk.
“We’re addressing all of the concerns in state D.O.T.’s report,” said Seth Solomonow, spokesperson for city D.O.T. “We’ve completed some repairs and others are scheduled.”
While the decaying steel beams sound serious, Solomonow said people have to consider how big the bridge is and how much redundancy of support is built into it.
“If [State D.O.T.] thought these things were serious, there would have been red flags,” Solomonow said.
On a deck truss bridge, the roadway sits atop the lattice of girders that supports the bridge, Carrier said. The Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridges are generally thought of as suspension bridges, but since they have partial deck truss spans, they were included in the report.
The Williamsburg Bridge, another suspension bridge, was not included. It was last inspected in November 2006 and was given a safety rating of 4.736.