FORT HUNTER, N.Y. (NEWS10) – Tuesday marks 35 years since the Schoharie Creek Bridge along the New York State Thruway collapsed, killing 10 people. In the three and a half decades since the disaster, the state has taken a number of steps to ensure the safety of infrastructure.
April 5, 1987 is a day that won’t be forgotten in the Capital Region. That morning, as motorists were traveling along the Thruway over the Schoharie Creek in Montgomery County, two spans suddenly collapsed. Four cars and a tractor trailer fell roughly 80 feet into the rain-soaked creek below.
“Sounded like lightning struck when the bridge went out, then it just collapsed from there,” one eyewitness told News10 the day of the collapse in 1987.
An additional span collapsed later in the day when no one was on the structure.
Federal investigators found the probable cause of the accident was poor maintenance by the state to prevent severe erosion. The National Transportation Safety Board also found the bridge inspection program and the design of the bridge itself as other factors.
Following the tragedy over the Schoharie Creek, the New York State Department of Transportation says both the state and federal government enacted changes to construction, maintenance and inspection of highway bridges.
In a statement, the DOT said in part, “Since 1988, the New York State Department of Transportation has had one of the most comprehensive and rigorous bridge inspection programs in the nation.”
All highway bridges statewide must be inspected every two years, if not sooner. The DOT’s statement goes on to say the following when it comes to the state’s bridge inspections:
“In New York State, bridge inspectors assess all bridge components and are required to evaluate, score and document the condition of structural elements as well as the general components common to all bridges.”New York State Department of Transportation
Additional funding also hopes to strengthen New York’s infrastructure, particularly on bridges and roadways.
In a statement on the 35 year mark of the collapse, the New York State Thruway Authority said in part:
“Over the next five years, an additional $200 million will be invested in Thruway infrastructure within the capital region to allow us to continue operating one of the safest super highways in the nation.”New York State Thruway Authority
Governor Hochul’s proposed DOT Capital Plan also includes funding for modernizing and renewing roadways and bridges across the state.