How safe are New York bridges?

Posted at 12:36 PM, May 25, 2013
and last updated 2013-05-25 12:36:55-04

Tarrytown, NEW YORK (PIX11) — In 1983, three people were killed in the Mianus Bridge collapse in Greenwich, Connecticut.  In 2007, 13 people were killed and more than a hundred others were injured in a Minneapolis, Minnesota bridge collapse during the evening rush hour. Amazingly the recent bridge collapse in the state of Washington led to no casualties, but it does beg the question: how could bridges hundreds of thousands of people rely on fail  and could it happen in New York?

At one time something like that could have happened here and it could have happened on the Williamsburg and Manhattan bridges.

Sam Schwartz — who is a licensed engineer and spent 20 years of his career with the New York City Department of Transportation — said at one time it was a possibility, but not anymore.  Schwartz was part of the DOT at a time strong programs were implemented in the city to continue vital maintenance and upkeep on all city bridges on a regular basis and it’s for that reason he said New York City bridges are in fact safe.

There are, however, others that are of concern. The Gowanus Expressway and the Kosciusko Bridge are two Schwartz pointed to in need of major repair.  Outside of the city, Barry LePatner, a Manhattan construction attorney and author of “Too Big to Fail,” analyzed the safety of nearly 8000 bridges across the country and said here in New York his concern was the Tappan Zee.  It is a bridge LePatner has long criticized as being
unsafe and fractured critical, cited by the NYS Thruway Authorities own reports on safety.

In response, however, the NYS Thruway Authority said the following:

“As always, all Thruway bridges are safe for motorists and the Thruway Authority remains vigilant regarding the safety of the traveling public and the reliability of all aspects of our 570-mile system. New York State has one of the most rigorous bridge inspection and safety assurance programs in the country, which meets or exceeds national standards set by the Federal Highway Administration.”