Albion may demolish costly bridge and block off street

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 14 May 2014 at 12:00 am

ALBION – Facing the prospect of $775,000 or more in costs to village taxpayers, the Village Board may decide not to replace the Clarendon Street bridge.

The bridge could instead be removed and the street blocked off by the railroad tracks. The Village Board will have a 2 p.m. meeting Tuesday at Village Hall to discuss the issue with the state Department of Transportation and Bergmann Associates, the village’s consultant on the project.

The board on Monday was told the costs for the replacing the bridge had jumped by about $575,000 and those increases would be fully on village taxpayers, rather than the 80 percent by the federal government, 15 percent by the state and 5 percent by the village for most of the project.

Albion had been expecting to spend no more than $200,000 on the project. The extra $575,000 is too much for village taxpayers, Mayor Dean London said tonight at the Village Board meeting. The village would have to borrow money for that $575,000, which will further increase the costs, perhaps to $1 million total for village taxpayers.

If the bridge is torn down and the street blocked off, village officials expect the decision will upset many people. Clarendon Street is especially busy in the mornings for school buses and other school traffic.

“We’re going to catch heat but we’ll catch more heat if it’s 1 million dollars,” said Trustee Peter Sidari.

The village had been told before that it couldn’t back out of the project without paying the full costs for the engineering, design and other expenses for the project, which have topped $200,000. The village also was told Albion would have to pay the full costs of the demolition, which has been estimated at about $200,000.

But DOT officials told the village that is no longer the case. It wouldn’t have to reimburse the pre-construction costs, and the village would only have to pay the 5 percent share for demolition with the federal and state governments paying the other 95 percent.

Sidari said the village will have a public hearing to get residents’ input. If Clarendon Street is blocked off, more traffic would be pushed to Butts Road and other village crossings, such as McKinistry, Platt and Main streets.

Genesee Valley Transportation, owner of the railroad, has opposed adding another grade crossing in Albion. If Clarendon Street became a grade crossing, GVT has insisted that two other village crossings be blocked off.