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Marshall warns of dangerous bridge

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Marshall warns of dangerous bridge

BY JOHN LAUINGER

DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITER

May 8th 2008

 

[float=right]amd_thomascampagna.jpg

Slattery for News

Queens County engineer Thomas Campagna

and Borough President Helen Marshall

examine bridge.

[/float]An Amtrak bridge over the busy intersection of Northern Blvd. and Broadway in Woodside has severe cracks in its concrete exterior - posing a significant danger to pedestrians and motorists, a top elected official warned.

 

Queens Borough President Helen Marshall, who has demanded an immediate response from Amtrak, said the bridge's exterior has deteriorated to the point where chunks of concrete have fallen off.

 

The Daily News reviewed the overpass with Marshall on Tuesday and observed several softball-sized pieces lying on the sidewalk along Broadway.

 

"This is a very dangerous situation," Marshall said, adding that Northern Blvd. and Broadway are two of the borough's most heavily trafficked roadways.

 

Marshall wrote to Amtrak on Tuesday, imploring the agency to repair the deteriorating bridge before tragedy strikes.

 

"The potential for a catastrophic accident caused either directly or indirectly by falling chunks of concrete is very real and, at this point, very preventable," Marshall's letter said.

 

The overpass carries trains traveling between Penn Station and points in Amtrak's Northeast Corridor, according to Amtrak.

 

The concrete exterior - which shields structural members from the elements - was fraught with fissures from end to end. There were numerous gaping holes, as well as exposed sections of steel.

 

In at least two spots, entire sections of concrete were missing from semicircular braces known as spandrels.

 

There also was a horizontal crack running nearly the entire length of the portion of the bridge that spans Broadway.

 

Thomas Campagna, an engineer for Queens County, said the crack will widen if left unrepaired - creating the possibility that a massive segment of concrete could come crashing down.

 

"It's only a matter of time," Campagna said.

 

Amtrak spokesman Cliff Cole said a group of engineers evaluated the bridge yesterday in response to Marshall's letter.

 

"We're going to work on shoring up the concrete," he said, adding that work is likely to begin tomorrow and continue through the end of next week.

 

Cole said workers will replace or strengthen concrete sections that have been eroded or weakened. But Amtrak is not planning to completely replace the bridge's concrete exterior, he said.

 

Marshall said she hopes the repairs will not just be cosmetic.

 

"This isn't a patch job," she said.

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