State DOT Plan to Fix Bad I-81 Bridge in Binghamton Isn’t Working
A multi-million-dollar project to repair a defective Interstate 81 bridge on Binghamton's North Side is on hold with no end in sight.
The state Department of Transportation closed Chenango Street under the highway last summer so work could be done to strengthen the sinking bridge structure.
Area residents say construction crews were pulled from the site a few weeks ago. People familiar with the project have said the concrete that's been poured on the underside of the arched bridge has failed to meet required specifications.
Traffic has been detoured around the Chenango Street work zone since September 11, In a travel advisory, the DOT advised motorists the closure would last about three months.
Now - nearly seven months later - the agency won't say why construction work has been halted or when it will resume. The DOT also will not explain why the original plan to fix the problem has failed.
The agency last fall told WNBF News the estimated final cost of the repair job was $3.5 million. The DOT would not say whether the contractor which built the bridge in 2013 will foot the bill for the current project. The bridge was built as part of the massive Prospect Mountain reconstruction initiative.
Drivers spotted problems with the bridge less than a year after it opened. They noticed part of the precast arch appeared to have slipped a few inches. They also saw water pouring down onto Chenango Street between the concrete section during rain storms.
A DOT spokesman in July 2014 said engineers were "expecting some settling" with the bridge. He said move of the bridge sections was "not surprising."
Residents of the neighborhood near the bridge who were told Chenango Street would reopen in December want to know why it remains closed in April.
Despite repeated requests in recent days, the DOT would not provide any new estimates regarding when the detour will end or how much additional money will be spent on the repair job.
The DOT advisory about the street closing made no reference to the bridge deficiencies or the work that was planned.
Thousands of cars, trucks and other vehicles continue to use the Interstate 81 bridge every day while the concrete work under the span remains unfinished.
Contact WNBF News reporter Bob Joseph: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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