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Youngmann bridge hole triggers replacement

When a chunk of concrete became dislodged Thursday from a Youngmann Highway bridge, the incident reinforced the need to replace the aged bridge and others nearby in a major, multimillion-dollar project set to begin this year, according to state transportation officials.

“They need some work,” acting DOT Regional Director Darrell F. Kaminski said Friday. “There’s some advanced deterioration with the substructure, with some of the deck, of course, as we saw the other day.”

The tires of about 16 vehicles were punctured Thursday morning after the concrete came out of a bridge joint area on the westbound I-290 where it crosses Delaware Avenue in the Town of Tonawanda. It created a hole and caused some traffic backup on the highway.

“What happened the other day is typical of a bridge that’s met its service life,” Kaminski said of the bridge that dates from 1965.

The DOT initially blamed Thursday’s problem on the freeze-thaw cycle that has caused many potholes on area roads, but Kaminski said the DOT wants to investigate further.

“That material debonded from the concrete deck,” he said. “We’re not really sure why. It shouldn’t do that.”

Kaminski assured that the bridge was not “unsafe” but acknowledged it is “deficient.”

Lane closures in the vicinity of Thursday’s incident are planned Sunday from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. so crews can inspect and perform maintenance, the DOT announced Friday.

Bids will open in March on a three-year, $15 million project that combines full replacement of the east and westbound bridges over Military Road and Delaware Avenue.

Because the bridges are so close, Kaminski said, the DOT determined it would be easier and more cost-effective to replace them all at once.

“It’s good we can do these together so we don’t have a project that’s very disruptive for a few years and then, right on the heels of that, do another one,” he said.

When one of the bridges is closed starting in 2015, traffic will be routed over to the other and be reduced to a minimum of two lanes in each direction, Kaminski said.

“We have a good traffic managing plan,” Kaminski said. “Traffic will be impacted, but we think we’ve got a sound plan to keep things moving out there.”

In two separate projects, the DOT plans to begin work in winter 2015-16 on rehabilitation of the I-290 bridges over Parker Boulevard and the NFTA’s out of service road.