Potholes gnaw at Ghent Route 66 bridge

GHENT–If driving to and from the hamlet seems a little bumpy lately, a solution may might finally be in view. But how soon still remains unclear.

At last month’s Town Board meeting town Supervisor Mike Benvenuto mentioned he had reached out twice to the state Department of Transportation (DOT) regarding the immediate need of repairing the bridge over Kline Kill on Route 66. Drivers have been veering erratically over the bridge to avoid the deeper potholes, and the problem has only worsened after a long winter.

At the Town Board meeting the month before, Ghent Fire Company Chief Anthony Brahm expressed the need for repairs, and soon. “The piecemeal and patching is just not working, and more and more cars are swerving to avoid the potholes,” he said. “I’m afraid that soon there’ll be an accident there.”

Chief Brahm and Supervisor Benvenuto both reached out to the DOT in the past month to address the issue, in the hopes that repairs can be expedited. Mr. Benvenuto has said that the state was waiting on the 2018-19 state budget to pass in order to complete the bridge project this summer, but the Department of Transportation website has not been updated and still says the completion date for construction is projected for the end of summer—2019.

“In the meantime they are patching [the bridge] as they see the need,” said Mr. Benvenuto, and workers were filling in at least some of the more alarming bumps in the road.

According to the DOT website, the repair work will replace the bridge deck and approach slabs, the bearing, and the bridge rail, as well as fixing the concrete substructure and steel beams. The project is estimated to cost $1.9 million, and will receive both federal and state funding.

The last published appraisal of the bridge’s condition is from May 2015, when its structural appraisal said that the bridge was “somewhat better than minimum adequacy to tolerate being left in place as is.” It’s not clear that this statement remains true three years later. Approximately 17% of Columbia County’s bridges are considered “structurally deficient” according to a report from the Office of the State Comptroller.

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