Tonawanda News — Countywide, another 50 bridges are labeled “functionally obsolete” because their design does not meet current standards for managing traffic volume. Lanes are narrow, shoulders are narrow or non-existent, clearances are low and the like. The F.O. label does not reflect structural integrity, D.O.T. said.
A couple of examples: While “obsolete,” the century-old Canal Road, Lockport, and Slayton Settlement Road, Gasport, bridges over the Erie Canal are rated 5.89 and 5.45 respectively.
In eastern Niagara County, six of 10 structurally deficient or functionally obsolete bridges are owned by the county. Plans are in the works to repair most of them within five to 10 years, as federal transportation aid is secured, according to Michael F. Tracy, deputy commissioner of public works.
The Wilson-Burt Road bridge over Eighteenmile Creek in Newfane requires a $4.2 million project, involving repair of all piers and abutments, recycling of steel and replacement of decking and sidewalks, is being design-engineered now and bid solicitation for the various parts of the job should get under way in December, according to Tracy. Eighty percent of the tab is being reimbursed by the federal government.
The county already invested $400,000 in the Wilson-Burt Road bridge, in 2008-09, to have one weakened pier shored up. D.O.T. had “red-flagged” the bridge, indicating it wasn’t safe for crossing, so it was closed until the pier was fixed. At 350 feet across and about 40 feet above the creek, the Wilson-Burt bridge is “one of the most significant bridges in the county,” Tracy said.