Clarendon Street bridge scheduled for replacement in 2014

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 25 April 2013 at 12:00 am

Photo by Tom Rivers – The Clarendon Street bridge in the village of Albion is scheduled to be replaced next year with 95 percent of the costs paid by the state and federal governments.

ALBION – After more than a decade of looking at alternatives for the Clarendon Street bridge, construction of the project is now imminent: next year.

State Department of Transportation officials updated the Albion community on the replacement project on Wednesday. The DOT and engineers at Bergmann Associates in Buffalo are working on the final design for the project.

The state was considering a new bridge that would have been higher than the existing one, which would have required longer approaches, but the new bridge will be the same height, easing some neighborhood disruption with the project. The Falls Road Railroad backed off wanting a higher bridge.

Some residents, including former Mayor Ed Salvatore, told the Village Board and DOT to just dead-end the bridge and not bother with a replacement at an estimated price of $1.8 million.

“This is an enormous cost to the village for a few trains,” he said during a public meeting about the project on Wednesday.

The village has to pay 5 percent of the project, or about $90,000. The state pays 15 percent and the federal government 80 percent. The federal money is already approved.

If the village opted against going forward with the replacement, Albion could be on the hook for the $200,000 that has already been spent on engineering and preliminary costs, plus the village would then have to pay the full share of demolishing the bridge at an estimated $200,000.

“The bottom line to me is it will cost the village more to take it down than to have a new one,” Trustee Pete Sidari told the bridge detractors.

The current bridge has “heavily deteriorated” beams, spalling concrete and other problems, said Kevin Miller, an engineer with Bergmann.

The DOT wants to replace the bridge with a smaller precast concrete structure that will improve sight lines and offer wider travel lanes, shoulders and sidewalks. The DOT and Bergmann looked at fixing the problems at the bridge, instead of doing a replacement, but Miller said that would be a short-term fix.

Salvatore and resident Joe Martillotta were both critical of the cost of the project, and said the village wouldn’t move forward with it if the federals and state governments weren’t shouldering the costs.

Mayor Dean Theodorakos fired back at Salvatore, saying the village needs to go after projects supported by outside grants and funding.

“Are we going to sit here and let things fall down?” Theodorakos said. “Is that what you want? Eventually the village will shut down because the people won’t want to spend money here.”

Clarendon Street can be heavily trafficked, especially during in the morning when school starts and in the afternoon when it lets out. Trustee Eileen Banker said closing Clarendon Street permanently would divert traffic to McKinstry Street, where a lot of students walk to school.

The DOT is working to acquire pieces of five properties between Crimson Drive and Childs Street. The state plans to accept bids for the bridge construction in March 2014. Construction should start the following April and the new bridge should open in November 2014.