Mayor Walsh Seeks Information from Railroad Co. About Bridge Inspections Following Wall Collapse

Jul 6, 2018

Crews work on the railroad viaduct Friday along S. Clinton St. A temporary wall was put in place to keep debris from falling from the rail bed. A closer look shows significant deterioration on the tops of the columns that once supported the original wall that tumbled onto the roadway. Other columns appear to be in much better condition.
Credit Scott Willis / WAER News

The city of Syracuse is looking for some answers after a portion of wall fell from the elevated train tracks downtown Thursday.  Mayor Ben Walsh says for now, the debris has been cleaned up, but the portion of Clinton Street remains closed between Jefferson and West Onondaga streets.  He explains jurisdiction for the rail lines and the viaduct rest with the Federal Rail Administration and the New York Susquehanna and Western Railroad. 

Walsh wants to know if anyone knew the bridge was dangerous … and he’s looking for some information.

"The most recent reports on the NYS&W elevated viaduct through the city.  We're asking the FRA to conduct an immediate inspection of the entire elevated viaudct as it goes  throughout the city of Syracuse prior to rail service commencing.”        

Walsh reiterated that the prime concern is public safety, for pedestrians and traffic near rail lines.  A portion more than 100 feet long came crashing down, under which the support column shows significant decay.  Columns to either side are not as deteriorated.  Walsh praised city services for responding quickly, diverting traffic and cleaning up debris.  But he doesn’t plan to let the rail road company off the hook.

A closer look at a deteriorated column that once supported the wall that fell onto S. Clinton St.
Credit Scott Willis / WAER News

“We have notified NYS&W Railroad that the city is incurring significant costs associated with the clean-up and ongoing project here, and we've communicated our expectation that we be fully reimbursed for those costs.”        

Walsh says there are open lines of communication between the railroad, federal regulators and elected officials.  But he says they haven’t been able to find out when the bridge – anywhere through Syracuse – was last inspected.  Since the Mayor’s comments Friday, Congress Member John Katko has sent a letter to the head of the railroad administration demanding information on inspections and actions the agency takes when a bridge is structurally deficient. 

Mayor Ben Walsh and Deputy Mayor Sharon Owens chat with engineers to get an update on repairs.