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Newly reopened bridge tagged with graffiti

Newly reopened bridge tagged with graffiti

City officials believe damage was done the night the bridge was reopened
Newly reopened bridge tagged with graffiti
It didn't take long for vandals to tag the recently reopened Oak Street bridge.
Photographer: Peter Barber/Daily Gazette photographer

SCHENECTADY -- Just two days after the reopening of the Oak Street Bridge, someone has decided to send a message to the city -- through graffiti.

That message: “Try Again” and "LMAO," written in black spraypaint on one steel wall lining the bridge. More graffiti, appearing to include Roman numbers, was added to the road, across one of the driving lanes on the bridge.

The bridge reopened to some fanfare on Tuesday, as Mayor Gary McCarthy was joined by city and state officials to cut a ribbon marking the resumption of traffic on the span, which connects the Mont Pleasant and Bellevue neighborhoods.

Paul LaFond, the city’s commissioner of general services, said the graffiti most likely was made the same night, as city crews discovered it Wednesday morning. It was found on a green divider between the road and the sidewalk, as well as on the road itself.

LaFond said crews had painted the green dividers on Monday.

“It’s an unfortunate thing,” LaFond said.

He added that city workers will first use a chemical to try to remove the graffiti. If that doesn’t work, LaFond said they would try a pressure washer. For the graffiti on the road, LaFond said city crews would just use a pressure washer.

It’s unclear whether they would need to repaint the areas where the graffiti was, LaFond said.

The bridge had been closed for more than five years before being reopened, following a $1.75 million repair project.

It was closed in 2013 after being deemed structurally deficient. City officials previously said the steel bracing at the piers had worn away.

The repairs were paid for with city, state and federal funds. The city increased its allocation for the project in November -- from $150,000 to $350,000 -- with state and federal entities covering the rest of the cost.

Councilman Vince Riggi, who was at the ribbon cutting on Tuesday and is a resident of Bellevue, said it was unfortunate to see someone already defacing the bridge. But he added graffiti is an issue that’s been “pervasive” through the city and needs to be addressed.

“Until we really punish somebody, it’s probably going to continue,” Riggi said. "Maybe we need to put a camera on the bridge.”

Riggi said he hoped the city could use the clear paint that would prevent people from putting graffiti on it. LaFond said he would have to check with city Engineer Chris Wallin about whether they would be able to do so.

Councilman John Polimeni, who was also at the ribbon cutting and grew up in Bellevue, said he hadn’t seen the graffiti but wasn’t happy to hear it happened.

“Honestly, it’s really a shame people have to go out and try to deface and destroy things so many in the city and community care about,” Polimeni said. “It’s sad they have nothing better to do with their time than this.”

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