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A tale of two bridges

BLOOMINGDALE - A local bridge deemed to be in worse shape than the Crown Point Bridge months ago has since been rebuilt.

In May, State Department of Transportation inspectors gave the bridge on County Route 18, near the center of Bloomingdale, a rating of 3.29 on the department's 1-to-7 scale for condition. That same month, The Crown Point bridge, which closed Oct. 16 due to structural deterioration, relieved a rating of 3.38.

However, unlike the Crown Point Bridge, the bridge on County Route 18 has gotten some much needed attention. The Essex County Department of Public Works began renovation of the bridge Sept. 14, and work is nearly finished.

According to DPW deputy superintendent Tony LaVigne, the original bridge had been built in 1965 as a span of three culverts supported by concrete wailers. In fall of 2008, inspectors found both the wailers and the culverts had deteriorated to the point of needing replacement.

The immediate need for attention moved the bridge up on the department's list of projects for its five-year plan.

"On that plan, we take the amount of money we have and try to address the worst few bridges," said LaVigne. "This was one of the lowest rated bridges on our plan."

The bridge received a red flag, giving county officials six weeks to develop a plan for fixing it. Engineers decided to replace the existing design with a 28-foot clear-span bridge supported by concrete retaining walls. According to LaVigne, the project has cost the county $519,686.

Traffic on the bridge has been limited to one lane during construction. According to County DPW estimates, it handles roughly 480 cars per day.

"I'm very happy with replacing it," said St. Armand supervisor Joyce Morency, adding that residents had often complained of their basements flooding because of clogged culverts on the bridge. "It should certainly help with the plowing of that road," she said.

Until its replacement, the bridge was one of 100 across the state that were rated worse than the Crown Point Bridge, which spans roughly 80 times longer and will undoubtedly cost millions to replace.

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