The grassroots effort to have the New York State Department of Transportation make a cut in the new North Street railing and replace the pedestrian walkway has paid off for the community.
According to Kim Spitzer, one of the driving forces behind the effort, the DOT has agreed to cut the railing on the newly constructed bridge and put the path back in.
"I just want to say how appreciative we are to the DOT for listening to us and understanding our issue and how thankful we are that they are going [to open the walkway]," Spitzer said. "It was a community effort to get this open."
Once the materials come in, the DOT plans to redo that portion of the railing. Resident John Curtin said the project should be completed mid- to late summer before school returns to session.
"It's just great news," Curtin said of the DOT's agreement to redo the rail.
Following a site meeting on Feb. 25 between residents, representatives from Assemblyman Will Barclay's and Sen. John DeFrancisco's offices and the DOT, Spitzer said the group received a letter from the state saying they were not going to make any sort of cut in the rail because it would leave a blunt end, which the DOT had previously said would be more dangerous to a motorist if they were to get into an accident on the bridge and run into the post.
However, thanks to community member and TDK Engineering and Associates partner Joe Durand, the group was made aware that a simple cut and reconfiguring of the railing could be made that would be safe for pedestrians and motorists.
"The reason we knew it could be done is because of Joe," Spitzer said.
At that time, Chuck Murphy, legislative aide for DeFrancisco's office, told Spitzer the group could go above the heads of the local DOT and contact the state DOT commissioner's office.