FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: September 5, 2012
Contact: Tom Staudter | ThomasS@westchesterlegislators.com | 914-995-2819 (office) | 914-815-4462 (cell)
Democratic Legislators Angry Over Fulton Avenue Drawbridge Closing
BOL appropriated over $6 million for repairs in 2009
White Plains, NY – Three Democratic members of the Westchester County Board of Legislators (BOL)—Vice Chair Lyndon Williams (D-Mount Vernon), MaryJane Shimsky (D-Hastings-on-Hudson) and Bill Ryan (D-White Plains)—expressed anger and indignation today upon hearing that the County-owned Fulton Avenue Drawbridge between Pelham Manor and Mount Vernon will be closed indefinitely due to structural concerns, especially so since the BOL had appropriated over $6 million ($800,000 in 2008 for design, and $5,570,000 in 2009 for construction) for repairs, but it appears work did not progress as planned since the 2012 Capital Budget shows only $1 million obligated to the work.
“This is a total inconvenience to residents of Westchester and many others who use this bridge,” said Williams, whose legislative district includes one end of the span. “This establishes, once again, the lack of planning by County Executive Astorino and his Administration when it comes to following through with capital projects. They should have known better than to wait on repairing the bridge.”
The bridge, built in 1974, was closed after a recent inspection by the New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT) deemed it to be unsafe. However, Jay Pisco, presently acting unlawfully without BOL approval as Commissioner of the Department of Public Works and Transportation (DPWT), testified during the County’s Board of Acquisition and Contract meeting on Thursday, August 30, that the Fulton Avenue Bridge could remain in service while repairs flagged by NYSDOT are made. Pisco noted that emergency conditions at the bridge were being called for because of the inspection, thus allowing repair work to move forward pursuant to the County’s rules for selection of an emergency contractor.
“The unexplained delay of the necessary repairs on the Fulton Avenue Bridge is yet another example of the Administration’s irresponsible practice of neglecting county roads, bridges and other essential infrastructure,” said Ryan. “This is work that would safeguard the public while creating desperately needed construction jobs here in Westchester. I don’t get why they’re not fixing this bridge right now.”
The initial $6 million appropriated for the Fulton Avenue Drawbridge was to fund repairs to steel members and piers, rehabilitation of wearing surface, painting, rebalancing of bascule spans and installation of riverbank protection. Proposed work was to also include rehabilitation of mechanical and electrical components of the bridge. The structure is 171 feet long and 63 feet wide, totaling 10,773 square feet. In June 2012, the bridge was closed for electrical repairs after being stuck in the open position.
Legislator Shimsky noted the Ashford Avenue Bridge, which connects the villages of Dobbs Ferry and Ardsley, was also identified as needing repairs several years ago. Similar to the Fulton Avenue Drawbridge, the BOL appropriated money for its repair, but Astorino stalled the work. When concrete from the Ashford Avenue Bridge fell on to the roadway below in June 2012, Astorino did not call for an emergency, and as a result the work for netting and planking underneath the bridge (to catch more falling debris while the span waits for larger repairs) has not yet been started.
“When it comes to safeguarding the public, you have to act as quickly as possible,” said Shimsky. “It makes me wonder how many other bridge repairs and important infrastructure projects are not receiving the attention they deserve.”
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