Russell Bridge Is So Badly Rusted, School Buses Can't Use It

Russell Bridge Is So Badly Rusted, School Buses Can't Use It

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Parents at Edwards-Knox School got a call they didn't want to hear Thursday. Hundreds of children would be late getting home on the bus. And they could be late for years.

That's because the County Route 24 bridge in Russell is so badly rusted school buses full of children can no longer cross it.

“We've had very heavy buses coming across. Luckily, it's been found before something could happen,” said Ronald Burke, Edwards-Knox superintendent:

State Department of Transportation bridge inspectors notified the county Thursday afternoon that the bridge could carry no more than 10 tons. That prompted immediate calls to local emergency responders and the school district.

“Once the county knew, we knew within a matter of moments,” said Burke.

The bridge is slated to be replaced in 2019. Some Edwards-Knox students will face rides of more than one-and-a-half hours in the morning and the same coming back until a new bridge is built.

This week some of the rides are even longer. Buses now need to take long detours to Hermon or DeGrasse.

The new weight limit on the bridge will not just affect school children, it will also impact fire protection, snow plowing, and tractor trailers that move all kinds of freight.

Local fire departments are working with other departments to make sure fire calls get answered.

County snowplows may have to split duties with towns to get roads plowed.

Rust is visible all along the bridge, but underneath the situation is even worse, particularly in one spot identified by inspectors.

“The beam is nearly corroded all the way through and so that's why we needed to reduce the load,” said Donald Chambers, St. Lawrence County highway director.

The bridge has lasted nearly 100 years, but it looks like it will never see a second century of use.

Until it's replaced, it means longer rides for schoolchildren and continued headaches for anyone hauling a big load on the roads.

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