Bridge between Schenectady neighborhoods closed
SCHENECTADY The only bridge to a tiny neighborhood cut off on two sides by railroad tracks has been shut down.
And the bridge will remain closed until it is fixed by Amtrak, its owner. The company must repair the Oak Street Bridge’s steel piers, but has not yet begun work, even though the state Department of Transportation reported the problem to the agency last year.
The closure will force neighborhood residents to take a mile-long detour to get to the rest of the city. School officials have warned parents that buses will likely be delayed five to 10 minutes as they reroute around the bridge.
The bridge runs between Cheltingham and Eighth avenues, linking a small piece of the Bellevue neighborhood to Mont Pleasant. It is a bustling residential neighborhood with many children who use the bridge daily.
For now, students who walk to the nearby Pleasant Valley Elementary School and Mont Pleasant Middle School can still use the bridge. If that access is cut off, their 11⁄4-mile walk would become more than a 21⁄4-mile trip. School officials said they are preparing for the possibility of having to bus those students if the bridge is closed to pedestrians in the future.
Mayor Gary McCarthy said he will allow pedestrian traffic for now, but he had to close the bridge to cars, effective today. He said the bridge’s deterioration would soon “present a significant risk” if cars were allowed to use it.
He said Amtrak was notified in 2012 that DOT had cited the bridge for “red flag” structural deficiencies, which it said had to be fixed soon.
Amtrak officials could not be reached Tuesday. City officials said they had no word on when — or if — the agency would fix the bridge.