Report finds majority of Binghamton's railroad bridges are in disrepair
An investigation commissioned by the city of Binghamton has found that a majority of the city’s railroad bridges are in poor or "severe" condition.
Of the 25 bridges inspected by an engineering firm hired by the city, 12 had “significant structural or safety concerns.”
Mayor Jared Kraham said the over 900-page report “confirms what residents have known for years.” He said the report found crumbling concrete, rusted steel, and exposed rebar.
“These bridges are unsightly, they're crumbling, and potentially dangerous,” Kraham said. “This report puts railroad companies on notice for the deplorable conditions of their infrastructure.”
Most of the bridges are owned and operated by Norfolk Southern. The transport company has come under scrutiny after a fiery train derailment, and subsequent chemical spill, earlier this year in Ohio.
Three railroad bridges inspected are owned by New York Susquehanna and Western (NYSW).
Kraham said the railroad companies are responsible for inspecting and maintaining their railroad bridges. He said some of the bridges passed the railroad companies’ own official inspections as recently as this year.
“I have a grave concern that they were either not aware of the condition of their bridges, which is very concerning,” Kraham said. “Or fully aware of the condition of their bridges, and chose over many decades to not do anything about it.”
The bridges flagged as in severe disrepair include two over Glenwood Avenue, as well as bridges over Jarvis Street, Water Street, and Front Street.
Andy Kinsley, a bridge engineer at Hunt Engineers, Architects, Land Surveyors & Landscape Architect (HUNT-EAS), was part of the team that conducted the inspections. He said while inspecting a bridge on Water Street, a resident approached him.
“They said that their car was hit by a piece of debris from one of the structures,” Kinsley said. “So there's definitely a safety concern with that respect, falling debris and material that could possibly harm pedestrians or vehicles.”
Kraham said at this point, none of the safety concerns flagged by the inspections warrant stopping traffic under the bridges.
He said the city has sent the report to both railroad companies.
“If the railroads are not willing to, in good faith, work on a plan to fix these, we will rely on federal regulators and our lawmakers to take the fight to Washington,” Kraham said.
The full report is available to the public on the city’s website.