Andrew Campbell, 40, of Bergenfield, NJ, was in for a bad surprise when he drove over the Queensboro Bridge Feb. 22.
At about 7 p.m. as he passed the bridge’s lower level, a bolt and bracket of metal shattered the windshield of his white Mercedes. According to two transportation inspectors it appears the bolt may have fallen from the part of the bridge that supports the subway. The Department of Transportation was still trying to determine the exact cause of the accident in the days afterward.
Campbell was left unharmed but shocked and the incident has caused worry about the state of the bridge.
“I ride a motorcycle and a lot of people ride bikes across the bridge, that could have caused deaths,” said City Councilman Peter Vallone Jr. (D-Astoria), head of the Public Safety Committee. He called for an immediate inspection of the bridge.
“The city recently changed all the signs [with] money that could have been spent inspecting our bridges,” Vallone said, referring to the total cost of $255,000 that was used for new signs when the span had its name changed to the Ed Koch Queensboro Bridge in April last year.
The DOT, however, said the money came from private donations.
“Even if that was financed by private money it was still done by city employees on city time,” Vallone insisted.
The Queensboro Bridge opened to traffic in 1909. During the 1990s, almost $300 million was invested in its maintenance and repair. But despite improved bridge conditions and investment, last week’s incident raises the question of how much more work it may need. And scores of spans in Queens and citywide remain deficient, according to both public and private sources.
Upon their last inspection 160 bridges in the five boroughs were deficient, according to “The Fix We’re In For: The State of Our Nation’s Bridges,” a March 2011 report by the Washington, DC-based reform coalition Transportation for America. The DOT has called the need to repair many of them “the bridge wave” and has in the past four years, surpassed $4.3 billion in capital investments on projects to bring its roads and bridges into a state of good repair.