Inspectors comb underside of aging Tappan Zee Bridge

Inspectors combed the heavily traveled Tappan Zee Bridge Monday, looking for any sign of weakness that could lead to a collapse.

Crews with the state Department of Transportation spent the day crawling under the 150-foot-tall structure in search of cracks, flaws and rust.Gov. Eliot Spitzer ordered the inspection of bridges similar in design to the bridge in Minnesota that collapsed August 1, killing several drivers.

According to the New York State Thruway Authority, the Tappan Zee inspection is more extensive than any federal or state inspection program and could take up to a month to complete.

The 3-mile span was designed to last 50 years, but turns 52 this year. Although it recently passed a regular safety inspection, commuters said they're pleased to see a more thorough assessment taking place.

"If it happens during rush hour, there's a lot more cars on the Tappan Zee than in Minnesota," said Mike Silverman of the Minnesota incident. "The results would be a lot worse."

Officials said a decision as to whether the bridge will be replaced won't be made until sometime next year.

To view footage of the bridge inspection, go to channel 612 on your digital iO cable box and select iO Extra.

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