Because the target area for the DRI (Downtown Revitalization Initiative) is called the BRIDGE District (BRIDGE being an acronym for Build, Renew, Invent, Develop, Grow, Empower), and even though the district stretches from South Bay to North Bay and is not just the area surrounding the now unusable Ferry Street Bridge, people sometimes wonder, when the conversation is about the DRI, if any of the $10 million for the BRIDGE District will be used to repair the actual bridge.
The likely answer is no, because the money has already been secured to replace the bridge from another source. It is coming through the New York State Department of Transportation Region 8 office, and work will proceed according to DOT's strictly prescribed timeline. When the announcement of this funding was made back in April 2016, it was anticipated that the actual construction of the bridge would not happen until 2020. Recently, Gossips asked Rob Perry, superintendent of the Department of Public Works, where we were on the timeline, and he kindly provided an update.
In October 2016, the first $250,000 of the funds was released. This was allocated for "right of way and incidentals, preliminary design, and final design." According to Perry, 95 percent of this design work is structural and does not involve the appearance of the bridge above the roadway. There was a little setback last year in getting started, because letters of interest were solicited from five of the fifteen engineering firms prequalified by the DOT; it turned out that letters of interest had to be solicited from all fifteen firms. The process was repeated, the City received letters of interest from five firms, they were scored, DOT had to review the scoring sheets and approve the authorizing resolution, and, in April 2017, the Common Council passed a resolution authorizing the mayor to enter into a contract with Creighton Manning for the design phase of the bridge replacement project.
As Perry explained, DOT has to approve things before they happen and after they happen, so it wasn't until August 2017 that Creighton Manning actually got started on the project. Their work now is focused on right of way and clearance elevation. The latter involves an issue that could affect the appearance of the bridge. The clearance over the tracks is currently 19.5 feet, but CSX is considering increasing the required clearance, throughout the system, to 22 or 23 feet. Creighton Manning is trying to get CSX to approve the existing 19.5 foot clearance, but if the clearance requirement is increased, the approaches to the bridge will have to be steeper, and the bridge may need to have an arched deck.
Perry told Gossips, "Starting next year, I will recommend to the next mayor that they hold a few public input/outreach sessions regarding the physical appearance of the bridge. It is premature to have these discussions until we know what clearance elevation will be allowed, as the height of the deck will directly impact the sightline of the rest of the bridge." When such meetings are scheduled, you can count on Gossips to publish the information.
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