Thursday, February 28, 2008

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Northern Westchester Bureau Chief
Catherine Wilson

State Department Of Transportation Responds To Guardian Exposé

By the time The Guardian went to press with our article on the Amvets Memorial Bridge over the Croton Reservoir (published February 14, 2008), we had not heard back from the New York State Department of Transportation despite numerous requests for information. We can now report that we have since heard from several sources within that State agency Region 8 sector regarding the bridge.

Joan Dupont, the regional director for DOT, Hudson Valley, informs us that the DOT is aware of the need for repairs to the bridge and has, in fact, already scheduled. Ms. Dupont reassured The Guardian: “DOT has a contractor scheduled for this Spring and is currently working on obtaining environmental permits. is bridge is to be cleaned and painted and will receive repairs to the steel structure. This bridge was inspected over the past two years as part of the State’s routine inspections and the repairs are being made as a result of that

As part of our original investigation, The Guardian discovered that over seventeen thousand bridges nationwide, including almost three thousand federal bridges, are more than two years behind schedule for routine inspections. Some states, such as Hawaii, had over 45% of their bridge inspections behind schedule. New York State was one of only eight states nationwide with zero percent late inspections reported. The Guardian confirmed that statistic with the DOT.

“We do inspect all bridges every two years and move bridges into a one-year category when warranted,” Ms. Dupont told us. As to the level of inspections performed, Dupont continued: “Our inspectors do both a visual and a manual hands-on inspection to obtain
close access. We use bucket trucks to reach over the side and underneath the bridges which allow the inspectors to get up close to all the members of the bridge. This bridge, because it doesn’t have trucks traveling on it, is subject to less stress than other regional bridges,” Dupont assured us.

On the heels of those statements, The Guardian then contacted the Engineering Section for the Hudson Region to obtain answers to some additional questions. Carol McGarrigle, a co-coordinator for the region’s headquarters, forwarded responses to our queries from engineers in the field:

Guardian: What is the expected useful life of this bridge at present?

DOT: The useful life of a bridge is based on many factors. Primarily the main influences in the life of a bridge are deterioration and fatigue.
Fatigue is when the metal is stressed repeatedly through many cycles of loading and unloading. The fatigue of a bridge is dependent on the
strength of the original design and the loading, the type and amount of traffic-like trucks.

Guardian: What work will be performed on this bridge ?

DOT: The project is a maintenance-type project where deteriorated steel will be repaired or replaced and the entire bridge will be repainted. The painting of the bridge will include complete removal of the existing paint and painting all of the steel with three new coats of paint. The
entire project plans and specifications are available on a CD in PDF format.

Guardian: What are the expected dates of this work and how long is it anticipated to last?

DOT: The project is expected to begin this spring and end in late 2009.

Guardian: Are there any special or significant repair techniques and/or equipment that will be used in the repairs and upcoming maintenance on this bridge?

DOT: For the type of work being done there are generally no unique techniques or equipment anticipated. The work will be progressed in a
manner that will keep three lanes of traffic on the bridge during all peak traffic hours.

Guardian: What is the work schedule like?

DOT: The contractor will begin at one end of the bridge and progress his work across the bridge to the end.

Guardian: What was the date of the last inspection and repairs on this bridge?

DOT: The bridge was last inspected on November 16, 2007.

Guardian: What is the projected cost of the upcoming repairs and maintenance on this bridge?

DOT: The low bid for this project was $ 9.3 million.

Guardian: What is the annual cost to maintain and inspect this bridge? Is it on a one-year or two-year cycle for inspections? What time cycle is it on for repairs?

DOT: We do not have readily available data on maintenance cycles and costs. A bridge is normally inspected on a two-year cycle. When there is a yellow structural flag on a bridge it is inspected every year. There is currently a yellow structural flag on this bridge for deterioration at the end of a stringer. If the stringer does not get repaired this year, the bridge will be inspected again this year.

Guardian: What was the annual expected usage of this bridge when it was built? How much has that annual usage increased? Has the increased usage contributed to increased maintenance and repairs or changed the cycle of the maintenance and repairs?

(Note to readers: the Westchester County Planning Department estimates this usage to be currently as high as 75,000
vehicles daily).

DOT: We do not have any readily available information on this.

Guardian: Will any equipment be used to test the weight and stress load on this bridge when checking for hairline cracks not visible to the naked eye?

DOT: is type of work is not anticipated at this time.

Guardian: What type of stress is this bridge subjected to? How does that vary from other bridges in the area, such as, not having trucks cross
it? Does that contribute to different inspection types/cycles and maintenance/repair work?

DOT: The bridge is restricted to cars except that buses are permitted to use the right lane. Generally the only trucks that would be on the bridge are DOT maintenance trucks. The inspection cycle of a bridge is based on the deficiencies (yellow structural flag like noted above).

Guardian: What approvals are needed before the projected maintenance and repairs can be started? What government agencies or other groups are involved in obtaining or obstructing those approvals; DEC, environmental groups, etc.

DOT: This project is developed in coordination with various regional groups. The contractor is required to obtain a NYCDEP permit prior to
starting work.

Some of the above information that The Guardian requested required additional research by the DOT engineers, all of whom were out in the
field either inspecting or repairing the local infrastructure. Naturally, we did not wish to interfere with those important functions at this time but have asked the regional engineers to provide us with further information in the near future. We will keep our readers apprised of those updates and developments with respect to the repair work to the Amvet Memorial Bridge over the Croton Reservoir, as it become available.

Northern Westchester Round-Up

Croton-on-Hudson: The town is seeking to prevent the flooding problems at the Croton-Harmon train station by raising the level of the parking lot by five feet. Town officials sought financial assistance for this project from FEMA, but were denied federal funds last week. FEMA rejected the grant application stating that it did not meet the standards for a hazard-mitigation grant since it is a voluntary parking
lot, not a permanent facility, and warning signs are readily posted to warn commuters of the danger.

Ossining: The Village will be hosting a job fair on April 5 to assist middle and high school students in finding summer employment. The Village will be inviting local businesses and County departments to meet the students.

Somers: The Somers Town Board approved a bond last week to cover improvements to the town’s library. If the bond is passed by the voters, the library will receive needed renovations and a 7,000 square foot addition for a total anticipated cost of $9.5 million.

– Catherine Wilson

Hudson Valley Area Facing Acute Blood Shortages At This Time

A group of Mt. Pleasant Boy Scouts are currently seeking blood donors for the Hudson Valley Blood Service as part of an
Eagle Scout project. Todd Bello, the scout in charge of this project, hopes to get at least 45 to 60 donors to ensure 30 viable donors from a
blood drive he is organizing at the Mt. Pleasant Community Center.

According to the New York Blood Center, nearly 2,000 men, women and children across all ethnic groups in the region need donated blood products every day. These include people who are surgical patients, victims of leukemia, hemophilia, etc., accident victims, and cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy. Only about 2% of our locally eligible population donates blood each year - far below the nationwide average of 5%.

According to Mr. Bello “New York depends on blood from other parts of the country, like the mid-west, for a portion of our local supply. But due to their extremely bad winter this year and local natural disasters lately, the supply from these sources is far lower than usual. And
blood supplies are only good for 42 days”. Contributing to this shortage is the increased demand for blood due to a growing local population, increased transplants, and surgeries, and better medical technology and techniques prolonging survival rates from diseases. Maureen Roberts, an Account Manager at the Hudson Valley Blood Service, is working with these ambitious young men to provide the materials and assistance they need to reach their goals to alleviate this severe shortage affecting our region.

Mr. Bello’s goals for his project: “First, getting the team together and starting publicity – we had a meeting with other scouts, adults, advisors, etc. and laid out the plan(s) for publicity, calling donors, Day-of-the- Drive activities, etc. Then provide training for the team and hold publicity activities – like setting up tables to get people to sign up to donate. Put up posters and other materials and ask local merchants for donations to give out to people who successfully donate”.

(This reporter encountered these young men in front of the Rosehill Shopping Center in Thornwood on a very frigid Saturday morning recently, bravely encountering the elements to sign people up). “Most of the Hudson Valley Area Facing Acute Blood Shortages At This Time people who stopped at our information table told us personal stories of how they, or someone they knew, had been saved by a blood transfusion” Bello told me. “Many people are inspired to donate blood because their own lives were saved by strangers”. In two hours, he and his team had enlisted twelve volunteers to donate blood and distributed over 100 flyers.

A local merchant, Silvio’s restaurant, handed them welcome cups of hot chocolate, although they confided to me that taking turns in the
blood-drop shaped “Mr. Hemoglobin” suit also helped keep their spirits and temperatures up!

The goal of these Eagle Scout projects is not just to get the young men involved in their community. It also teaches them valuable management skills. The day before the blood drive the scouts are geared up to make reminder calls to people who have signed-up and will do a walk-through at the donation site. On the day of the drive itself, the entire team will be on hand to greet donors as they arrive, hand out paperwork, check off names from their list, call no-shows and remind them, take pictures, walk successful donors to the snack
table, man the snack table, hand out any give-aways, and thank everyone who comes to donate.

Bello and his troop’s contribution to the need in our community won’t end there, though. The day after the drive he plans on personally sending out a note to the whole troop on the results of the blood drive, again thank everyone involved including all donors, and contact the no-shows to see if they would be willing to donate in the future.

According to the New York Blood Center, future donations are easiest to obtain from those who have already donated since anxiety is the hardest part of giving blood for most first-timers. The regional blood centers laud their donors as “quiet heroes whose contribution speaks volumes to those in need of a life saving contribution”. In addition to the blood donors, the behind-the-scenes efforts of the blood drive organizers like these local boy scouts, speaks volumes too.

For any of our readers who wish to alleviate this acute blood shortage and help save lives in our region, the Hawthorne Boy Scout Troop 1 will be hosting this Blood Drive on Saturday, March 1st from 9:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. at the Mt. Pleasant Community Center at 125 Lozza Drive in Valhalla (adjacent to the Mt. Pleasant branch library).

The Hudson Valley Blood Services also sponsors blood drives across our region. For more information on blood drives near
you and what you can do to save a neighbor’s life, call 1-800-933-2566, or log onto

The Guardian thanks the following members of Hawthorne Troop 1 for bringing our region’s critical blood shortage to
our attention, and for all their good work: Todd Bello, Stephen Fabrico, Robert Briggs, Jake Antonaceio, Dante Di-Giansante, Chris Recine, Matt Vogel, Chris Frustaglio, Tommy Higgins

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