Rochester, New York - Despite outcries from local preservationist groups, the railroad swing bridge in the Port of Rochester, in the upstate region of New York State, is set to be demolished in the fall of this year. On Tuesday, scaffolding began to arrive at the site, solidifying to the community that the Hojack bridge will be coming down.
Situated in the middle of the Genesee River, the delicate task of removing all of the asbestos from the unique railroad swing bridge will begin sometime in October. Before any substantial demolition can begin, removing asbestos is paramount.
According to Rochester's Democrat and Chronicle, the bridge was originally scheduled to be torn down 10 years ago, but due to “bureaucratic red tape, community activism and bridge owner CSX Transportation's requests for more time,” the bridge lingered.
Originally designed to “swing” and allow boats to freely pass that section of the river, Rochester's Hojack bridge is only one of two remaining swing bridges built by the King Iron Bridge and Manufacturing Co.. Out of commission since the mid-1990s, the United States Coast Guard requested CSX to tear the bridge down.
Though used in a variety of capacities in bridge construction, asbestos was most commonly used in concrete joints, waterproofing and other strengthening needs. Using asbestos in bridge construction was expected as it was in other structures because the naturally occurring mineral was incredibly cost effective and durable. Rochester's 107 year old Hojack bridge is no except.
Asbestos is a toxic substance that is known to cause cancer. Exposure to asbestos can lead to mesothelioma, a lethal form of cancer that affects the protective lining of the heart, lungs or abdominal cavity, and lung cancer.
Though asbestos is generally considered hazardous, the level of the health threat is usually determined by what state the mineral is in. If the asbestos is broken up or disturbed in anyway, it is considered to be “friable.” As it is the case with Rochester's Hojack bridge and with any substantial demolition project, removing the asbestos before the destruction begins prevents exposure to friable asbestos.