NY State DOT re-opening former 219 bridge early

The New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT) is re-opening the former Route 219 (South Cascade Drive and Miller Road) Bridge over Cattaraugus Creek several weeks ahead of schedule, acting Regional Director Darrell Kaminski said at a March 23 ceremony held at the bridge.

Residents and local businesses depend heavily on this bridge, which is why NYSDOT says it “worked diligently” to re-open it as quickly as possible. The bridge was originally scheduled to be re-opened in early April. “Under the leadership of Governor [Andrew M.] Cuomo, the department was able to expedite emergency repairs to the former Route 219 Bridge which provides a local transportation link between Erie and Cattaraugus counties,” Kaminski said in a press release. “It was important to re-open the bridge to traffic because it not only serves local mobility and transportation needs, but it has a direct impact on the local economy of the surrounding communities.”

The bridge was closed to all traffic on Jan. 5, 2012, due to structural concerns caused by frozen bridge bearings. NYSDOT invoked an emergency contract to accelerate the replacement of the bridge abutment bearings and return traffic to the bridge. Several regional public officials joined Kaminski to commemorate the reopening.

“Our infrastructure is suffering from a crippling lack of investment and our economy is paying the price, as evidenced by the devastating impact the sudden but necessary closing of the bridge had on the local business community,” Democrat Rep. Brian Higgins (NY-27) said in a written statement. “According to Transportation for America report, the Buffalo Niagara region ranks thirteenth worst in the nation, among similar sized communities in terms of deficient bridges. In this instance, the New York State Department of Transportation was able to act swiftly to address safety issues, and we are thankful for their efforts. This however, should be a wake-up call. The best way to create economic growth is to create jobs and the best way to create jobs is to invest aggressively in infrastructure. There is a great amount of work that needs to be done and Western New Yorkers certainly need the work.”

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Republican Rep. Tom Reed (NY-29), also noted in a written statement: “This bridge is a main conduit and having it open again is vital to those in both Cattaraugus and Erie Counties. I thank all the local and state officials and agencies who kept this project as a top priority and made this happen.”

New York State Sen. Catharine Young (R,C,I-57th District) says re-opening the bridge in such a short period of time “is truly is a remarkable feat. When the bridge closed, the future was murky. It wasn’t clear if it ever could be open for traffic again, which would have killed small businesses and hurt the quality of life for local residents.” However, Young lauds Gov. Cuomo for “stepping up to the plate.”

She says he worked to come up with Sen. Gallivan (R,C,I – 59th District), the NYSDOT and herself to come up with a speedy solution. “Word that traffic will be restored to the Old 219 Bridge is long-awaited and welcome news for the Village of Springville,” Gallivan said in a press release. “Since the bridge’s abrupt closure in January, I have worked every day with transportation officials in Western New York and in Albany to restore bridge traffic as soon as safely possible; I thank them for their cooperation. But the most important efforts came from those impacted most – the people and businesses of Springville. Without their persistence and commitment, I don’t think we would be celebrating the re-opening of this bridge ahead of schedule, as we are today. They deserve all the credit in the world.”

The emergency bridge repairs were completed under the statewide emergency bridge contract which was awarded to D.A. Collins Construction Company of Wilton, Saratoga County. Although traffic will be crossing the bridge, crews will still be on site during the next several weeks to finish detail work.