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BRIDGE LINKING SCHOOLS FIXABLE, ENGINEER SAYS

The damaged pedestrian bridge that connects the Niagara-Wheatfield high school and middle school does not need to be replaced, school officials learned this week.

The bridge is still closed after being hit Sept. 20 by a Cerrone Construction Co. truck used in a road pavement project s on Saunders Settlement Road.

The dump truck's bed was in a raised position when it attempted to pass under the walkway, according to reports.

Director of Facilities Donna Ersing said Peter Grace, a structural engineer from Siracuse Engineers, inspected the bridge this week along with an a representative from Apollo Steel.

"They did steel testing and the good news is it can be repaired," she said. "It looked a lot worse inside than it was."

She said the bridge will still require work on walls, the floor, windows and "a lot of other cosmetic work."

The structural steel repair probably could begin Oct. 9, she said. The matter is expected to come up at the Oct. 4 School Board meeting.

Heavy-duty structural steel was used in the construction of the bridge and may have prevented it from collapsing and becoming a total loss, school officials have noted.

The bridge was built as part of a capital projects referendum three years ago at a cost of about $500,000.

Opened in January 1999, the walkway gave middle school students access to the media center and other facilities attached to the senior high.

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