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Concerns rise about safety of old railroad bridge in Slingerlands

July 31, 2018 06:45 PM

SLINGERLANDS - There's an old adage that suggests it's not what you know, but what you don't know that should concern you.

Along those lines, even though the old railroad bridge that crosses Route 85 in Slingerlands seems fine to the bicyclists and joggers who use the rail trail every day, many people have concerns about what lies beneath.

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The old rail bridge was built more than a century ago. Even though the trains are a thing of the past, Albany County has transformed it into a rail trail that more than 200,000 cyclists, joggers and dog walkers used last year.

What those people can't see from up above is what thousands of motorists see every day, driving beneath the bridge: crumbling concrete, rusted steel --  certainly the appearance that there might be questions about the structural soundness of the bridge.

According to state Department of Transportation, "There are no safety issues that would impact users of Route 85 (New Scotland Road).”

So I asked what about safety issues concerning users of the rail trail? DOT told me that's Albany County's concern.

So I contacted the county and I was told the rail trail will be finished by the end of this year.

Even though there are signs posted up on top and even though there are orange pylons and yellow tape which appear to have been blocking off part of the trail, those pylons and tape have been removed, allowing bicyclists, joggers and baby strollers to use the bridge, which is not paved up on top.

There is crushed stone and that forces bike riders to slow down. Bicycle tires have been blown out. It is not conducive to wheelchair users either.

Again, Albany County promises completion by the end of the year.

It's unclear if completion of the rail trail includes shoring up the old bridge. The question implies there's a problem with the bridge.

According to DOT, the bridge is safe for traffic passing underneath.

It's also important to keep in mind crumbling concrete near the underpinnings of the bridge don't necessarily weaken the structure, as long as the century-old steel remains sound.

Credits

Dan Levy

Copyright 2019 WNYT-TV LLC, a Hubbard Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved

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