Editorial: A bridge too far

Five-to-10 years to fix one, two-lane bridge?

That's how long it's going to take to make the Clark Street Bridge safe again, according to Madison County Highway Superintendent Joseph Wisinski. The state Department of Transportation which looks after bridges has known for some time that the bridge was failing, but now believes the deterioration has accelerated. So, the crossing has to be closed. And it is going to be closed for a long period of time because no one knows where to get the money to fix it.

Here is what Wisniski told the Republican: "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 ... reimbursement, which is another 15 percent. 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." Wisinski said further that it will cost $400,000 to $1 million to replace the span.

So while Village of Cazenovia and Madison County officials go looking for money, school buses and parents trying to reach the Burton Street Elementary School will be rerouted to Burr Street, adding about a half mile to their commute.

Admittedly, a half-mile run-around doesn't constitute an emergency on any level. What's bothersome is that the NYSDOT has known for years that the bridge was rotting away and did nothing in the way of planning that would have anticipated closing the bridge.

Seems to us that with all that left over stimulus money floating around Washington searching for shovel-ready projects, the Clark Street Bridge replacement would fit the requirement.

Perhaps someone should call Washington and ask.

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