County Closes Bridge

‘Pancake’ hole causes closure

A popular shortcut between Granville and Whitehall is no more after damage found to a North Granville bridge resulted in its likely permanent closure last Friday.

The Upper Turnpike Bridge rests in a gully about 1 mile from Route 22 and is used as a pass through during the year for residents of both communities in lieu of the longer trip around to Whitehall via routes 22 and 4.

About 2 p.m. workers from the Washington County highway department discovered the hole and reported it to the highway department headquarters in Fort Edward.

“It pancaked out,” worker Francis Wilson said. Wilson and fellow county worker Paul Miller stood by at the site monitoring the hole while waiting for materials to block off the road leading to the bridge.

Wilson explained a large piece of the concrete dropped out of the deck of the bridge, which led to the opening of the hole. The piece was both bigger around and thicker than the area of the holes. The head of the county DPW and the county’s engineer had just left the site before a reporter arrived on scene.

The stream running below the bridge could clearly be seen by those who looked through the gap in the decking. The rest of the deck of the bridge was said to be about 8 inches thick and the span itself believed to be more than 100 years old.

By 3 p.m. workers were on the scene waiting for barricades to close off the road.

The workers said they will likely return to the site after the weekend and make a more permanent closure, blocking off each end of the span to prevent any traffic across. Granville Supervisor Matt Hicks said Friday night Highway Superintendent John Tanner informed him of the closure shortly after it happened Friday afternoon.

The hole, nearly the size of a soccer ball or large enough for a softball to easily pass completely through, was found in the southern edge of the bridge off to the side in an area where the tires of most vehicles crossing the span make contact with the damaged area.  

Vehicles large and small, from passenger cars to tractor-trailers, used the bridge as the workers waited for the temporary barriers to come from Fort Edward.

Also closed in North Granville is the Lower Turnpike Bridge, which crosses the Mettowee River just down the hill from Schoony’s North Granville Grocery off Route 22.

To add to the dwindling number of bridges in North Granville, the span over the river at Truthville has long been slated for replacement by county officials.

Washington County approved spending more than $250,000 on preliminary engineering for both sites in 2010.

Officials said previously they planned to repair the Lower Turnpike Bridge prior to beginning work on the Truthville Bridge to render Lower Turnpike capable of once again handling vehicle traffic. The span will remain unable to handle larger vehicles such as full-sized fire truck or school buses.

The Lower Turnpike Bridge was red flagged by New York State in 2009 after failing yet another state DOT department of transportation inspection.

The bridge has a spotty history and has been closed several times before only to be reopened following rehabilitation work.

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