ARDSLEY, N.Y. – A coalition of elected officials are calling for repairs to the Ashford Avenue Bridge to be fast-tracked after chunks of concrete fell on several cars during Friday's rush hour.
County Legislator MaryJane Shimsky (D-Hastings-on-Hudson) met with village, county, state and federal representatives Saturday morning at the deteriorating overpass, a day after five vehicles were damaged after concrete dropped from the span and onto the New York State Thruway.
“We all know this bridge is a big problem,” said Shimsky, a long-time proponent of repairing the 62-year-old span. “We have known for a long time. But this is a big wake-up call because we don’t want any fatalities. We got very lucky this time.”
Shimsky said the first step would be to make sure safety precautions are in place to keep concrete from falling onto the highway again. Officials in the Westchester County Public Works office are working towards a solution, she said, and preliminary plans may include netting or wood planking to support and catch falling concrete.
But the legislator said county, state and federal officials need to work together to hasten the joint, $20 million permanent repair project, scheduled to begin in March 2015.
“We have to keep in mind that netting and wood planking doesn’t last forever,” Shimsky said. “The construction date for this bridge is three years down the road. There’s a good chance we can’t wait that long.”
The Ashford Avenue bridge has notoriously been ranked among the worst in Westchester County. A December 2011 inspection scored it a 3.653 out of 7. In the report, officials described the bridge as being in "a state of moderate overall deterioration," with girder and bearing deterioration at joint locations.
Westchester Deputy County Executive Kevin Plunkett said Saturday the concrete that fell Friday was from the facing of the bridge and state and county engineers had deemed the bridge structurally sound after a lengthy inspection. Still, he agreed the repair timeline would have to be hastened.
“This kind of incident makes more apparent the need for all members involved to work together quickly,” he said.
Ardsley Mayor Peter Porcino said the village will host a meeting to discuss long-term solutions to the bridge on July 11 at 2 p.m. in Village Hall.