Mount Vernon Closes Two Bridges Due to Longtime Structural Issues
By JOHN JORDAN – January 20, 2023
MOUNT VERNON, NY—The City of Mount Vernon closed two overpasses earlier this month for structural integrity concerns cited by NYS DOT. Speaking at a virtual press conference on Jan. 11, Mount Vernon officials detailed the issues related to the Fulton Avenue and East Third Street overpasses. City officials notified city residents that the two overpasses would be closed on Jan. 12 at noon. NYS DOT classifies these overpasses as bridges.
Mount Vernon Mayor Shawyn Patterson-Howard ordered the closure and rerouting of traffic on the city’s southeast side. “We are acting to protect public safety,” she said. “We know this is a heavily trafficked route for private and commercial vehicles and the planned detours will cause some inconvenience but based on the state’s structural reports we cannot take the risk of road failure under the continued passage of overweight vehicles.”
She added, “Despite decades of temporary fixes, the city’s historic underinvestment in its infrastructure has manifested in yet another condition imminently dangerous to the safety and welfare of our residents and visitors. As the mayor of these legacy problems, I cannot consciously ignore these dangers as they continue to emerge much to our collective exasperation.”
Mount Vernon Department of Public Works Commissioner Damani Bush noted, “There is no easy solution to replacing century-old underground supports on the remnants of a 1912 structure. Still, we are working closely with the New York State Department of Transportation to complete the repairs necessary to deactivate the associated red flag conditions and are researching all available channels for funding to finance the repairs. Moving forward, the preservation of these repairs and additional long-term solutions will be included in the city’s capital and infrastructure plans to ensure safe vehicle passage for decades to come.”
He said for the past 17 years, the city has made temporary repairs to the two overpasses, but did not undertake any efforts to make permanent repairs. Commissioner Bush said one of the funding sources to be explored with NYS DOT will be the state’s Bridge NY program.
The red flags on the East Third Street overpass limits vehicles to three tons in weight, while the red flag on the South Fulton Avenue has a five-ton limit. With those weight restrictions, the roadways could not accommodate emergency services, trucks, buses, etc. Steel beams must be installed to deactivate the current red flag conditions, city officials stated.
“We cannot continue to make band-aid approaches,” Mayor Patterson-Howard said, adding that the city is looking to make permanent, rather than temporary solutions to the overpass structural issues.
City officials told CONSTRUCTION NEWS that cost estimates on the short-term and long-term repairs to the two overpasses were not known.
The city will be posting the details of the maintenance and protection, detoured traffic patterns and bus routes on its website and social media to minimize driver and rider inconvenience and traffic congestion and delays. Mount Vernon is also working with Westchester County, the Beeline Bus System, and the countywide emergency response divisions to ensure access to public safety services.