Saturday, March 15, 2014

An Effort to Save a Claverack Bridge

Ian Nitschke, champion of the historically significant Shaw Bridge, has an appeal on Imby to help save another historic bridge in Claverack, the Millbrook Road Bridge, from demolition.


  1. This will be good practice for saving Hudson's Ferry Street Bridge, a one-of-a-kind "double-intersection, subdivided, Warren pony truss."

    Just over a year ago, the Common Council endorsed the stark language of a Resolution committed "to ensure that the Ferry Street Bridge [be] demolished" and "replaced."

    Asked about it last month, Common Council President Moore stated that the language on the grant application itself (the occasion for the Resolution) actually called for the potential "restoration" of the Ferry Street Bridge.

    Good luck trying to square that claim with the following language:



    "WHEREAS, the CSX Corporation owns and maintains ....

    "WHEREAS, it is in the City’s interest and in the interest of the public’s health, safety and welfare to ensure that the Ferry Street Bridge is demolished ...

    "WHEREAS, the City in cooperation with the CSX Corporation and its long-term leasee, Amtrak, desires to apply for a Strategic Transportation Enhancements Program (STEP) grant for up to two million dollars ($2,000,000.00) for the demolition and replacement of the Ferry Street Bridge.

    "WHEREAS, ... The Mayor to apply for a STEP grant for up to two million dollars for the purpose of demolishing and replacing the Ferry Street Bridge in cooperation with the CSX Corporation and Amtrak.

    "Ayes: President Moore, Aldermen Donahue, Friedman, Haddad, Pertilla, Pierro, Ramsey and Stewart. (1,476)

    "Nays: Aldermen Marston and Wagoner. (360)"

  2. Why are so many in "power" unable to understand normal thinking ?

    1. Power causes distortion, maybe brain swelling

    2. 1.

      The old chestnut is that as soon as someone's elected to something in Hudson, in that moment they become expert on every subject.

      But wherever that's the case - and it's likely the case everywhere - those in power aren't entirely to blame. It's now a vast cultural assumption in which we increasingly envision government as an aggregate of expert technicians whom we pay to solve the problems we want no part in sorting out. (Look no further for the impetus behind the Tea Party.)

      Our ideas of public participation are increasingly mere remnants of a former culture. When the bi-partisan-and-progressive idea of Home Rule was implemented across the nation in the 1920s, that was already a hearkening back to a previous American culture (which helps explain how it was bipartisan in nature).

      Today, whether public participation is merely recommended in a "voluntary" program, such as in the waterfront program (LWRP) or the brownfields program (BOA), or whether it's a requirement as with the LWRP's Generic Environmental Impact Statement (GEIS) or the city's Long Term Control Plan, a less-than-conscientious municipality like Hudson can ignore the public and wear down those state agencies that are tasked with preserving the public's voice when we're unaware that we were meant to be included. Then the state gives Hudson the rubber stamp it was seeking all along, after which our local political culture can get down to the self-legitimizing and bi-partisan effort of pursuing those grants the rubber stamps made us elligible for.

      In both planning and grant-getting phases, the city's attitude towards its citizenry is to zig-zag, based on the counsel of attorneys who act as our elected experts' experts. These are the real technicians who thread a maze of cherry-picked laws, polices and programs to achieve ends about which the public may no nothing for years. (Ask yourselves how it was possible that in 2010 city attorney Cheryl Roberts was not aware of plans for a truck-to-rail "transloading facility" next to ADM when she misunderstood GEIS Comment 3.1.24 which concerned rail alternatives for transporting aggregate?)

    3. 2.

      The one thing that City Hall relies upon in a culture like Hudson's - which is to say a group of barely-connected artist/individualists - is that we'll do next to nothing to preserve and defend our collective voice, even when a few individuals are willing to conduct the necessary expose.

      And when we do complain, we do it in a predictably linear fashion, which was anticipated. The lawyers furnish their agendas with zig-zagging trajectories which are working long before the public even knows there's a plan. The example of the transloading facility and Comment 3.1.24 is obvious, but not yet proven. For a clear example of what I call "effective compartmentalization," which is the intentional eliding of the components in one program to reinforce those parts you want ignored in another, consider what was tried with the LWRP and the BOA Programs. Both were conducted in a mutually reinforcing fashion so that the potentially problematic former site of a Standard Oil depot in the South Bay was supposed to disappear down the memory hole. In that example we even had a title search company and an engineering firm to advance the city's dishonesty, but a few of us were still able to defeat them in the end. (Council President Moore explained that the issue had become "moot.")

      So whose fault is it really, these "distortions"? Just the politicians? I donlt think so. It's not just "power" that causes brain-swelling, but it's the citizenry too, and the dysfunction of our entire culture. The public's passivity and ignorance in the face of the relentless machinations of our elected betters is the other half of the perennial problem, and is something City Hall can rely upon. In my non-Tea Party opinion, you'd have to be distorted to imagine that the situation is anything but moribund in a free society.

      To return to the topic of bridges, I find it funny (in a pathetic way) that a few intrepid residents continue to do geurilla repairs to the Ferry Street Bridge! Our hired and elected experts in City Hall want the bridge to cave in on its own, which is why for years the city's refused to post a speed limit on Ferry Street. Speeding vehicles that destroy the bridge's deck are only a small component of the city's zig-zagging strategy there, but it's still a great testament to a former time that there are citizens willing to confound the city's machinations by taking matters into their own hands (literally: with power tools).