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Cove Road bridge gone for good

The state Department of Transportation has no plans to replace the recently closed Cove Road bridge. The bridge was closed July 23.

There are no current plans to replace it, said Alice Romanych, DOT Region 2 public relations officer.

Built in 1918, the bridge spans Wood Creek just a couple hundred yards east of another bridge over the state barge canal. That bridge is in better shape, according to Romanych.

In New York state, bridges are inspected every two years, but the Cove Road bridge had been on a watch list, had been inspected annually for several years and had been posted for heavy loads.

Engineers were particularly concerned with the floor beams.

We felt the bridge had to be closed because of the deterioration of the beams, Romanych said.

Load formulae allow engineers to calculate a bridge's carrying capacity, but according to Romanych the beams had deteriorated so much, engineers could no longer determine the load rating. We do take our bridge inspections very seriously.

Romanych said bridge inspections are led by engineers qualified to determine a bridge's condition. She said several factors determine a bridge's priority for replacement: the traffic volume, the added travel time necessitated by a detour and the department's limited annual budget.

In this case, Romanych said, the detour adds only a minute of travel time and had a relatively low volume of traffic.

This is just not high on our priority list, Romanych said.

A 1999 bridge justification study conducted by Harza Architects, Engineers and Construction Managers of Utica found that a detour to Route 13 through Sylvan Beach would only add one-10th of a mile of driving and take about an additional minute travel time.

But commuters trying to drive through Sylvan Beach on a weekend afternoon might think otherwise. Some members of the community say Route 13 on Sunday afternoons during the summer is a parking lot. Cove Road is a popular shortcut for western Oneida County residents who work in Syracuse.

I think these numbers do not reflect busy seasonal situations in the beach, said Fourth District Oneida County Legislator Norman Leach.

Sylvan Beach Mayor Tom Statkewicz said the bridge closing may slightly increase congestion, but would not be a serious problem.

It's too bad that it's closed, but I don't think that it will have a huge impact, Statkewicz said.

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