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I-95 pedestrian bridge pulled down

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A dump truck heading southbound on the Bruckner slammed into a pedestrian bridge at Waterbury Avenue, instantly destroying the southbound portion of the bridge linking Country Club and Waterbury-LaSalle.

The incident occurred around 2 a.m. on Friday, August 8, near exit 7B of the Bruckner Expressway, I-95, when the bridge was empty, according to sources at the scene, who also state that the driver may have accidentally triggered the hydraulic switch to raise the back of the truck, leading up to the accident.  

It is believed that the back of the truck hit the overpass, causing part of the 10-foot wide bridge to collapse.

The State Department of Transportation and the Office of Emergency Management were at the scene, and helped to remove the southbound portion of the bridge, which became a pile of rubble obstructing the roadway. The NYPD and city DOT were also at the scene.

The truck’s driver, who according to published reports is identified as Michael Avril, was taken to Jacobi Medical Center where he was treated for minor injuries. 

The northbound portion of the bridge is still standing, and is stable, and the bridge is closed while State DOT looks at ways to get pedestrian traffic across the thoroughfare.

“It was a miracle that no one was hurt,” said Assemblyman Michael Benedetto after speaking with DOT officials at the scene. “It looks like the young truck driver is going to be alright. The remaining structure is stable.”

The bridge linked Waterbury Avenue on the eastern side of the highway to Bruckner Boulevard between Waterbury and Baisley avenues on the western side of the roadway. 

The scene particularly shook up local residents who are used to seeing the pedestrian bridge as part of their everyday landscape, and who use it to get around the neighborhood, on Friday morning.

“It would have been a disaster if this had happened at rush hour,” said Frank Gallo, of Country Club. “I think that the bridge may have been in really bad condition if it collapsed from the impact.” 

The bridge is one of three pedestrian bridges over Bruckner Boulevard linking Pelham Bay, Waterbury-LaSalle, Country Club, and Spencer Estate.

“We are looking at both short term and long term solutions to finding ways for pedestrians to cross the Bruckner near the location of the bridge,” stated Charles O’Shea, of State DOT. “We would like to get a temporary structure up at the site, but we realize that it will eventually have to be done in a permanent way. We are looking, right now, into what would be appropriate.”

While State DOT tries to figure out what type of remedy to apply to the situation, they worked feverishly to get the southbound roadway of I-95 open by noon on Friday.

Traffic had to be diverted around I-95 between the Bruckner Interchange and Pelham Bay Station during the Friday morning rush, making for a somewhat hectic commute for many area residents on their way to work.

While for some, the collapse of the bridge was a minor worry because they had to drive around the debris and/or wait in traffic while going to work, it hit closer to home for others.

“I walk over that overpass every morning when I go to work,” said Frank Porrazzo, of Hone Avenue. “I didn’t go over it this morning, of course. I am just glad no one is hurt.” 

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