FOX 29 Investigates Report Leads To Action On Rail Bridge - New York News

FOX 29 Investigates Report Leads To Action On Rail Bridge

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OLDMANS CREEK, N.J. -

We first told you about a crumbling bridge in South Jersey that neighbors worry could cause a disaster.

As FOX 29 Investigates' Jeff Cole reports, the company that owns that span is now taking action to keep the bridge safe.

It was crumbling concrete and exposed metal rods, known as rebar, on a South Jersey railroad bridge that caught the eye of Frank Baginsky, an outdoorsman who fishes the waters of Oldmans Creek.

Baginsky has lived here all his life and took us to the bridge earlier this winter. He contacted Fox 29 Investigates after the train derailment at the Paulsboro swing bridge late last year.

The Paulsboro incident sent rail cars into Mantua Creek, spewing chemicals into the water and air, forcing residents to flee.

Along with the missing concrete and exposed rebar on the Oldsman Creek bridge, a retaining wall – apparently used to keep stones packed around the railroad ties – was pushed back, opening a gap where stones have tumbled to the creek.

We showed the video to NJ State Senate President, Steve Sweeney, who represents the area in Trenton. Asked for his reaction, Sweeney said, "I have a great concern."

The bridge, on the same line as the Paulsboro span, is owned by Conrail. When we questioned Conrail about it, a spokesman said no one would speak on-camera.

In a statement, Conrail wrote the Oldmans Creek bridge is regularly inspected and safe.

Realizing the story would air, the Federal Railroad Administration inspected the bridge the day before our report aired and declared it safe.

But Sweeney, an iron worker by trade, wasn't buying it: "They have to fix that," he said. "That is not an acceptable structure."

After our report, Sweeney fired off a letter to a Conrail executive, urging the company to repair the bridge.

Conrail wrote back, saying once again that the bridge is safe. But this time Conrail had more to say, writing it "will make repairs to address your concerns," adding it will "reinforce the concrete" and "eliminate any sizable gaps" in that bridge wall.

Conrail expects to have repairs done by the end of March.

Baginsky believes his efforts have paid off, saying, "Now, it was time to definitely sound the alarm, say, 'Hey, let's get this bridge fixed."

The Paulsboro train derailment has put the spotlight on the condition of South Jersey rail bridges. By the spring, the Oldmans Creek bridge should one less span for officials to be worried about, Cole reported.

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