Three-hundred and sixty-two days after the Clark Street bridge was deemed unsafe and closed by the New York State Department of Transportation, it was reopened for public use.
Originally estimated to remain closed for anywhere from five to 10 years, local officials immediately began examining ways to reopen the bridge when it was red-flagged and closed on May 2, 2011. After almost a year of causing frustration for residents, businesses and school bus drivers, Village of Cazenovia Public Works Administrator Bill Carr announced the bridge was open to all traffic on Friday, April 27.
“I’m delighted to see the bridge re-opened on schedule. Restoring this artery is very important for the safety of the adjacent neighborhoods and especially the students attending nearby Burton Street School,” said Cazenovia Village Mayor Kurt Wheeler. “It’s refreshing to see so many entities work together effectively for the public good. From Mr. Magee in the Assembly to the town, county, school district and village, this was a great team effort. Tim Mahoney, Bill Carr and John Dunkle all worked tirelessly to procure the best possible bridge on-time and on-budget for our residents and taxpayers.”
When the Clark Street bridge was first shut down last year, Madison County Highway Department administrators lamented that funding for repairs was unavailable. The closure created inconvenient detours for truck traffic from National Grid and Continental Cordage, bus and pedestrian traffic to Burton Street Elementary School as well as the daily commutes for nearby homeowners.
During the past year, local officials from the village, town, county and state collaborated to find a possible solution to the seemingly insurmountable dilemma.
On Nov. 2, New York State Assemblyman Bill Magee announced he had obtained $150,000 in capital funding, and village trustees voted to reassume ownership of the bridge from the county during a village board meeting on Nov. 7.
“When you work together collectively, then anything is possible. The county said ‘maybe’ they could reopen it in 10 years. That was unacceptable to the village board, Mayor Wheeler and Town Supervisor Ralph Monforte, and I’m pleased to have been part of this team,” said Village Trustee Tim Mahoney. “In less than a year from the day [the bridge] was closed by NYSDOT, it was reopened, thanks to local support and collaborative efforts between many agencies; the village, town and county.”
Demolition of the bridge began March 12 by Utica-based company Tioga Construction, and workers then installed a new concrete bridge and steel guardrails on both sides during the following month. Although Madison County could not finance the project, county employees provided labor and equipment during construction. The Cazenovia Town Highway Department also assisted, supplying trucks to help with transporting material.
Mahoney was on hand to thank DPW workers and Village Engineer John Dunkle, as well as the town and county, at an informal re-opening ceremony the morning of May 1. In addition to admiring the recent construction and commending all involved, Mahoney helped remove “closed road” signs from the area surrounding the bridge.
“If it wasn’t for the fact we have a great Public Works Administrator and great DPW staff, this wouldn’t have happened for the cost that it did — because we were able to do so much in house — but also, and equally as important, it wouldn’t have happened as quickly as it did,” Mahoney said. “The staff we have in the village are great … they give 110 percent everyday. This is just another example of teamwork within our area. Officials, employees and residents, coming together, embracing the project and making it happen.”
Pierce Smith is editor of the Cazenovia Republican. He can be reached at 434-8889 or firstname.lastname@example.org.