Call them troubled bridges over water.
The patchwork of waterways, highways and train tracks that criss-cross the Rye Neck area necessitated the building of a number of bridges over the last century or so. But much of that infrastructure has aged more than it was meant to, and a number of bridges that link Mamaroneck to Rye Town are in need of repairs or, in at least one case, replacement, according to town officials.
The bridge on Jefferson Avenue that spans the Mamaroneck River is almost 80 years old. The sidewalk on the north side of the bridge has been closed for almost two years because of cracks and erosion, and the flow of the river is wearing down one of the span's stone walls.
"The water hits the upstream side of the bridge and erodes the wall," said Rye Town Secretary Bishop Nowotnik. "People are crossing it every day, but you can see the amount of deterioration."
Officials are now looking to completely replace the bridge. Monday, the Village of Mamaroneck approved an agreement with a Briarcliff Manor firm to provide design and engineering services for the project, the cost of which will be partly covered by a $400,000 state grant. The entire replacement project is expected to cost upwards of $2 million, according to Rye Town's Superintendent of Highways, Tom Nardi. The village of Mamaroneck is spearheading the effort, and the costs will be split equally between the village and Rye Town.
Nowotnik said the planning phase for the new bridge would take up most of 2011, and construction will take up to nine months in 2012.
Water damage is also an issue at the bridge on South Barry Avenue that crosses a shallow tip of the harbor just off of Boston Post Road.
"One of the stone abutment walls has been undermined from the currents [coming from the Sound]," Nowotnik said.
"The rock face is crumbling from underneath and needs to be replaced. We're currently developing repair specifications " in order to solicit bids from contractors, he said.
The bridge, he added, hasn't been repaired for 20 years. Nowotnik said the repairs will probably take place in 2011.
"In this case, waiting will simply lead to more damage, a much larger repair and much more money," he said.
The municipalities are waiting on insurance money for a project to fix up a small bridge on Hillside Avenue. Last year, the bridge was damaged when a village of Mamaroneck DPW worker hit the side of the span with a truck. The bridge's sidewalks were already deteriorating when the accident happened.
Two local bridges that span Metro North train tracks—one on North Barry Avenue and the other on Hillside Avenue—are listed by the state as having structural issues. The North Barry Avenue bridge, which was built in 1887, received one of the lowest ratings of any bridge in the state this year.
By law, Metro-North is responsible for the maintenance of bridges that span its tracks. Calls to the railroad were not returned.
State law mandates the annual inspection of more than 17,000 bridges around the state. A large number are done by the Department of Transportation, while others must be conducted by municipalities or railroads and forwarded to state officials.
Both Nowotnik and the department are quick to point out that low inspection ratings don't imply damage that poses an imminent risk to drivers; instead, they are a red flag for bridges that "require maintenance and repair and eventual rehabilitation or replacement to address deficiencies," according to the department's website.
But Nowotnik did acknowledge that inspections are vulnerable to human error, and that keeping up with bridge maintenance is necessary to avoid the risk of a future collapse.
"The inspections are being done by humans, so a bolt that looks good today could fail tomorrow," he said. "The concern always has to be on the part on the safety. If we don't do this now, it's going to come back to haunt us someday."