© 2023 Connecticut Public

FCC Public Inspection Files:
WPKT · WRLI-FM · WEDW-FM · Public Files Contact
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Lead paint chips falling off CT bridges, DOT reports

Workers clean lead paint chips from the Queen Street overpass of Interstate 84 in Southington

Chips of lead paint are falling off hundreds of bridges in Connecticut at such a rate that the state Department of Transportation has put out an alert to municipalities and intends to hire contractors to clean it up.

“Bridge structures statewide have been experiencing a sudden, unexpected release of lead-based paint chips, which is believed to be related to the recent extreme swings in temperature,” said the DOT alert first issued to its own employees on Feb. 17.

The DOT’s bridge maintenance unit spent last weekend inspecting more than 2,100 bridges across the state and determined that lead paint was cracking and falling off hundreds of them.

This photograph was included in a CT Department of Transportation “safety alert” regarding lead paint chips falling from bridges.

“This discovery is not unique to Connecticut,” said DOT spokesman Josh Morgan. “Although paint chips on the ground pose little danger, members of the public should not touch any debris seen under bridges or on roadways. The flaking paint also does not pose a safety hazard for those crossing these structures.”

After that discovery, Mary Baker, the principal engineer for bridge safety and evaluation at the DOT, sent an alert to municipalities, warning them that they should inspect their local bridges.

“Last week, the Department of Transportation experienced a sudden failure of the paint coating on many steel bridges,” Baker said. “In response to the coating failures, the Department’s Environmental Compliance unit began remediation efforts to address the paint chips that had fallen.”

Baker’s memo to municipal officials said “paint chips are suspected of containing lead, [and] the remediation efforts are initially focused on areas that are accessible to the public,” such as those near bike paths and walking trails.

Workers clean lead paint chips from a bridge taking Route 2 over Griswold Street in Glastonbury.

“Cleanup efforts are already in progress, and a larger statewide mitigation plan is in development,” the alert said. “In the coming weeks, the Department intends to utilize contractors to remove failed paint that still remains on the bridge beams.”

The alert directs employees to take a series of steps if they encounter fallen paint chips, including warnings not to handle them and to avoid walking through debris on the ground because of the risk of tracking the contamination elsewhere.

It wasn’t clear Thursday night how many Connecticut bridges were painted with lead paint or for how long that paint type has been used.

Stand up for civility

This news story is funded in large part by Connecticut Public’s Members — listeners, viewers, and readers like you who value fact-based journalism and trustworthy information.

We hope their support inspires you to donate so that we can continue telling stories that inform, educate, and inspire you and your neighbors. As a community-supported public media service, Connecticut Public has relied on donor support for more than 50 years.

Your donation today will allow us to continue this work on your behalf. Give today at any amount and join the 50,000 members who are building a better—and more civil—Connecticut to live, work, and play.

Related Content