School buses and parents accustomed to crossing the Clark Street bridge while dropping children off at Burton Street Elementary will have to find an alternate route. The bridge, located just before the intersection of Route 13, was closed by Madison County on May 2, and will remain out of commission for an estimated five to ten years.
The bridge was built in 1966 as an overpass for Chittenango Creek, and had been monitored closely by the Department of Transportation over the past few years.
“New York State Department of Transportation does either annual or biannual inspections on all structures that have over a 20-foot span,” said Madison County Highway Superintendent Joseph Wisinski. “This one has been done annually because of the ongoing structural issues with it; this year when they did the inspections, [the bridge] had visibly worsened from last year.”
At the end of April, the bridge was red-flagged by the NYSDOT and determined to be closed for “an indefinite period of time” according to a press release from the Madison County Highway Department.
The closing of bridge means all traffic coming from Route 13 will be diverted 1 mile; drivers will have to travel East down Burr Street, and North on Burton Street to reach Clark Street.
This detour will affect the residents of Windmill Courts, workers at National Grid’s Cazenovia headquarters, trucks traveling to Continental Cordage, visitors to the Gorge Trail as well as school bus routes. The closing will also mean increased traffic of Burr Street.
A trip from Gorge Road to Burton Street Elementary will take an additional half-mile, now that the Clark Street bridge is closed.
The Clark Street Bridge is owned by Madison County. With a lack of funding to finance construction, Wisinski estimates it could take anywhere from five to 10 years to repair the bridge. “We evaluate every bridge’s need for replacement. We look at traffic volumes and detour lengths,” he said. “There are a few different factors we use to analyze the importance of having it replaced. At this time there are quite a few bridges that are of a higher priority than the Clark Street Bridge.”
Wisinski said engineering and construction costs to repair the bridge could range from $400,000 to $1 million. At this time he is unaware where the funding will come from. Normally counties in New York State are responsible for five-percent of repair costs. Not knowing how much funding will be provided by the government to repair the Clark Street Bridge, leaves construction timelines speculative.
“Typically funding comes from one or two places. Either all local county funds, or the federal highway department usually has an 80 percent reimbursement program. That goes along with state Marchicelli reimbursement, which is another 15 percent,” Wisinski said. “Historically for bridge repairs, that’s where the funding has come from. But at the federal level, they have not reauthorized any new bridge program, which is part of the problem; neither our county nor the state knows what the new funding will be. There is no good way to plan.”
In the next five years, Madison County and the Village of Cazenovia will look for funding both from NYS and the federal government to reopen the bridge.