SCOTIA — A Scotia bridge that has been facing a number of structural issues was inspected by the state Department of Transportation this week, just as the village recently hired an engineering firm to design plans for its replacement.
The Sunnyside Road bridge is about 370 feet long and one of the most frequently traveled roads in the village, said Scotia Mayor Tom Gifford.
The underside of the bridge, which Gifford said is owned by railroad company CSX, is in disrepair, and the deck, which the village owns, continues to see potholes. On Thursday, traffic was down to one lane on the bridge as crews used equipment to inspect the bridge.
“The New York State Department of Transportation has one of the most comprehensive and rigorous bridge inspection programs in the nation, requiring all highway bridges to be inspected at least every two years, if not sooner,” said Bryan Viggiani, a spokesperson for the DOT.
Viggiani referred additional questions regarding Sunnyside Road to village officials.
On Wednesday, Gifford alerted residents via village-wide email that the bridge has the potential to be shut down if the DOT deems it necessary.
“We have known for years that the under-structure is deteriorating,” Gifford said in the email. “It is technically owned by the railroad but they are unwilling to fix it. They don’t need it, but we do. More recently, the state bridge inspectors have red-flagged a number of serious deficiencies.”
Gifford said the bridge has had seven red flags for various deficiencies.
“So, this inspection could result in an order to close it or it could not,” Gifford said Thursday. “We just don’t know the answer to that.”
Gifford said that water has seeped into the under part of the bridge, which was built in the 1970s, causing some of the steel that forms and holds the bridge together to rust.
The deck of the bridge was replaced in 2014, closing the bridge for two months.
Gifford said that because CSX refuses to fix it, the village will. The village recently received almost $4.8 million in grant funding from the Capital District Transportation Committee toward replacement of the bridge. The village will have to put up 5%, which Gifford said he expects to do at the next Village Board meeting using American Rescue Plan Act funds.
The village has hired CHA Consulting for over $725,000 to develop the design for the bridge. Gifford said he’s looking at shortening the bridge as part of the project and doesn’t expect designs for at least a few months. Gifford said he anticipates that construction to replace the bridge can begin sometime next year.
CSX said the rail line and bridge are not its responsibility.
“Maintenance of this rail line is the responsibility of Amtrak in accordance to a long-term lease agreement which was approved by the [New York] State Department of Transportation,” said Cindy Schild, the director of media relations and public affairs for CSX.
Amtrak did not respond to questions regarding the bridge.
If the bridge were to close, people would have to use Dutch Meadows Lane to head toward Route 50 and other areas.