On Tuesday, Nov. 2, New York State Assemblyman Bill Magee informed the citizens of Cazenovia that he successfully secured $150,000 in capital funding, to put toward the replacement of the Clark Street bridge. Magee was awarded the funds after putting in a request to the speaker of the assembly, informing them of the growing concern over the closed bridge.
“Businesses in our area rely on the Clark Street bridge in order to deliver timely service. In this economy, local businesses cannot afford to lose customers. Lost customers result in lost revenue, which can mean layoffs for local workers, the last thing our community needs,” Magee said. “Public safety and sound infrastructure remain a top priority of mine, particularly when it has such a broad impact on our community. Replacing the Clark Street bridge is a win-win for everybody.”
While he said the request has yet to be finalized, Magee also said he has no reason to believe the money won’t be approved toward the cause. The $150,000 will be granted from the New York State Department of Transportation as Multi Mobile Money, a fund created to help local governments with their highway needs.
The Clark Street bridge was closed in May, after having slowly fallen into disrepair in past years. The overpass is a Madison County-owned bridge, but as the funding once allocated for repairs began to fade, so did the county’s efforts to maintain the structural integrity.
After being yellow-flagged in 2009, then red-flagged and moved to a single-lane the following year, the NYSDOT red-flagged and closed the bridge indefinitely after their most recent inspection in May.
Officials from the Madison County Highway Department estimated the bridge would remain closed for anywhere from five to ten years until the funding was available for repair.
Numerous residents, businesses and students have been affected in the wake of the closure, having to permanently alter their routine routes. Recently, Cazenovia Village Mayor Kurt Wheeler and the village board of trustees have begun to take steps toward re-assuming ownership of the bridge, hoping to procure the funding needed for a timely repair. The senior class at Cazenovia High School recently began fundraising efforts, netting $100 at their first event.
News of Assemblyman Magee’s success came as a welcomed development, and spread quickly.
“The village and all the residents in the greater Cazenovia area are deeply grateful to Assemblyman Magee for his advocacy,” Wheeler said. “His role in obtaining these critical funds was invaluable. They will make the bridge replacement viable in the near term without placing a major burden on local taxpayers.”
An engineering study on the bridge was recently returned to the village from the firm Delta Engineering, and yielded good news.
Public Works Administrator Bill Carr said the abutments supporting the bridge are in good shape and will not have to be replaced — which would have added more than $1 million to the total cost.
Because of this, a number of materials are available for a replacement structure, including cement, steel and wood.
In order to make use of the funding secured by Magee, the village would have to have ownership of the bridge. A vote, deciding whether to re-assume responsibility of the bridge, was held after a public hearing during the Cazenovia Village Board Meeting on Nov. 7.
Trustees voted unanimously to re-assume ownership from Madison County. A representative from Delta Engineering estimated the process, including planning and construction, will take about nine months, once implemented.
For the time being, village officials are preparing for Cazenovia’s first winter season without the use of the Clark Street bridge. Mayor Wheeler said the village will collaborate with the town, as well as the town of Fenner, to ensure vital roadways are well-maintained throughout the season.
Pierce Smith is editor of the Cazenovia Republican he can be reached at 434-8889 ext. 338 or email@example.com.