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Irene: Gap between road, 103 bridge widening

Irene: Gap between road, 103 bridge widening

Another section of the road leading to the Route 103 bridge has eroded away into the rushing water o

Another section of the road leading to the Route 103 bridge has eroded away into the rushing water of the Mohawk River.

State Department of Transportation spokeswoman Carol Breen said the gap between the road and the bridge structure is now about 50 feet long. She said the flood water washed away more of the soil embankment, causing the sinkhole beneath Route 103 to increase.

Breen said a team of engineers are heading to the scene to do an initial assessment of the damage. But neither the bridge nor the adjacent Lock 9 appear in any danger of collapse.

"At this point, no there's no danger of the bridge falling," she said this afternoon. "It's still sound."

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The bridge has remained closed since the Mohawk swelled in the immediate aftermath of Tropical Storm Irene last week. Crews had made initial repairs to the structure and had considered opening the bridge on Wednesday.

But with a forecast of more flooding on Thursday, the state opted instead to keep the bridge closed. After the Mohawk crested, the flooded river carved a new channel near the Glenville side of the bridge on the north bank.

A 30-foot section of the road collapsed on Thursday afternoon, prompting fears the bridge or lock might also topple. State officials ordered all of the bridges across the Mohawk closed for about two hours until engineers could determine whether the river was eroding away other structures.

The Route 103 bridge is free-standing and not attached to the adjacent Lock 9 structure. Only the so-called lock mules —mechanical devices that traverse the lock to raise the moveable dams —are attached to the bridge.

Breen said state officials are still trying to determine how much damage was incurred by the bridge footings, which remain submerged in the Mohawk. Until then, she said it will be tough for them to assess how long the bridge will remain closed and how much its repair will cost.

"They really need the water to recede before they do a full assessment," shes said.

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