ORLEANS COUNTY, N.Y.-- Two bridges crossing over the Erie Canal in Orleans County are considered the most structurally deficient bridges in Western New York, according to Federal Highway Administration Data.
On a scale of 0-100 (with zero being the worst in terms of structural deficiency) the bridge on Knowlesville Road in Ridgeway, built in 1910, scored a 3.8 sufficiency rating. The bridge on Bennett's Corner Road in Murray, built in 1911, scored a zero.
Despite both bridges being listed so poorly, they are still open.
The Knowlesville Road Bridge has a 6-ton weight restriction. The Bennett's Corner Road Bridge has a 4-ton restriction.
The State Comptroller's office compiled a report stating it would cost just over $1.1 billion to repair the deficient aging local bridges in Western New York. 2 On Your Side asked how much it would cost to repair and or replace the two bridges in Orleans County, but the Deputy Comptroller, Gabe Deyo said they don't know because the regional and county estimates in the report were based on federal data, not actual cost estimates for individual bridges.
Deyo also says the point of their report was to give policy makers a general idea of how bad the infrastructure situation is for bridges across the state, so that they could then decide how to proceed during the next legislative session.
"So, I think the comptroller is handing legislators and lawmakers really the data that backs up what a lot of us had known for a long time," says New York State Senator Robert Ortt. "You know, I didn't need the report to tell me that the bridges, at least in my district, and canals were in disrepair."
The state owns both bridges and will ultimately will be responsible for fixing it, but Sen. Ortt admits it will be a huge debate; first about how much money to approve, and second over which bridges to fix. He says he plans to introduce legislation this coming session that will help secure funding for infrastructure around canals in Western New York.
"We new to find a way to get to those bridges in those rural communities. Because very often those bridges, they may serve as the only access point or the main access point for people to get to their jobs...to get to a hospital," explains Ortt. "That's how it's going to get if they have to go a different way. It could be 15 minutes, it could be 20 minutes. That could be life and death for some folks."