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Ed Koch Queensboro Bridge Incident Raises Question: Are NYC Bridges Safe?

City Agencies Play Blame Game Over Falling Debris; Former Mayor Speaks Out
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Queensboro Bridge bolt and bracket

This bolt and bracket fell from a structure above the Ed Koch Queensboro Bridge and smashed a New Jersey man’s car below on Feb. 21, 2012. (Photo: CBS 2)

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LONG ISLAND CITY (CBSNewYork) — There was more fallout Thursday stemming from an incident two days earlier when falling debris landed on a car on the Ed Koch Queensboro Bridge.

As city and state agencies appear to fight over responsibility, the former mayor, himself, weighed in.

“I love the bridge,” Ed Koch said Thursday.

The bridge is the focus of an investigation into why a bolt and bracket crashed onto a car Tuesday night.

The rusty pieces did quite a number on Andrew Campbell’s prized Mercedes on the Queens side of the bridge.

“I’m a little nervous about using the bridges right now,” said Campbell, a Bergenfield, N.J. resident.

“Before I thought it was safe, now I don’t know what to think,” added Josh Kagzanov of Franklin Square on Long Island.

“It may happen next time,” said Barry Ghiarno of the Soundview section of the Bronx.

On Thursday, CBS 2’s Carlin returned to the bridge, where inspectors were re-checking bolts and brackets. City and state officials appear to be at odds over who is responsible.

City Department of Transportation officials say it appears to them the debris came from an adjacent subway structure that belongs to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority. However, MTA officials told Carlin there is no proof of that. Both sides refused to answer CBS 2’s questions on camera.

As the two investigations continue, the most important puzzle pieces remain in Campbell’s driveway. Neither agency has retrieved them.

Koch just wants answers about his bridge.

“I’m concerned about anything that relates to that bridge,” the former mayor said.

Koch defended the city’s bridge maintenance efforts, saying a strict schedule for upkeep and repairs is in place and started back when he was mayor.

“I am told by the city that they are all in very good shape,” Koch said.

Bridge expert Michel Ghosn of City College said a bolt or bracket falling from a bridge does not mean the structure is compromised.

“They have a lot of safety and they have redundancy because you have many members helping carry the load,” Ghosn said.

But he said this is a wake-up call that bridge budgets must be bolstered, to make sure inspections and renovations don’t fall behind.

The DOT said the Ed Koch Queensboro Bridge has undergone more than $400 million in upgrades over the past 10 years. It is part of a $5 billion investment in bridges citywide.

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