Drivers who take the Carmine Liberta Bridge westbound can hardly miss the strange new addition to the guardrail: a protrusion that sticks out a bit into the lane, forcing cars over slightly. It looks almost as if the old bridge has grown a tumor in its final days. The bridge is slated for removal this spring, with a temporary span to cross the river while a new permanent structure is built. It’s apparently a replacement that’s coming not a moment too soon, because that protruding stretch of guardrail was installed to temporarily address a serious defect in the structure, according to county engineer Ed Pine.
“It’s a temporary measure to keep the weight off of that stringer,” he said, because the imminent replacement makes it “pointless to do major repairs.” Stringers are the five beams that run in the same direction as traffic, and the one on that side is in pretty bad shape. The point of the extra guardrail is to just keep the weight off it until the bridge is taken down.
“That bridge has served its useful life,” Pine said, having been completed in 1941. It was named for Carmine Liberta by resolution of the county legislature in 2008. According to Butch Dener, who spearheaded that effort, he’s received personal assurances from County Executive Mike Hein and Public Works Director Susan Plonski that the new span would carry that name, as well.