FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: April 17, 2012
SCHUMER: SHODDY CONDITIONS OF JAMES WIDENER MEMORIAL BRIDGE IS A DISHONOR TO VIETNAM WAR VETERAN; CALLS ON NYS DEPT. OF TRANSPORTATION TO SWIFTLY COMPLETE MAINTENANCE REPAIRS OF BRIDGE IN CHILI
Memorial Bridge In Chili, Built To Honor Vietnam War Veteran PFC. James Widener of Churchville, Now Stands in Disrepair; Schumer Calls on DOT to Complete Maintenance and Better Reflect Widener’s Sacrifice to our Nation
In Response To Letter To The Editor Detailing Sorry Shape of Bridge, Schumer Pushes To Get Memorial Bridge In Top Shape As Soon As Possible
Schumer: Memorial Bridge Must Respect & Honor James Widener’s Heroic Service
Today, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer called on the New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT) to prioritize maintenance repairs on the James E. Widener Memorial Bridge in Chili, which has fallen into disrepair. The bridge is named for a Churchville veteran, who served bravely in the Vietnam War and was tragically killed in 1967. The bridge was dedicated to Private First Class Widener in 2007, and has since accumulated a variety of maintenance and repair needs. In order to better serve as a memorial and tribute to James Widener and his incredible commitment and sacrifice to our nation, Schumer is calling on the NYSDOT to move forward expeditiously with repairs of the bridge, a project that is currently in their queue and awaiting completion.
“When a memorial like the James E. Widener Memorial Bridge falls into disrepair, it tarnishes the image of an important tribute to our nation’s heroes,” said Schumer. “That is why it’s critical that projects, like the bridge that honors Private First Class James E. Widener of the Marine Corps receive repairs as soon as possible, so that the memorial can appropriately reflect Mr. Widener’s incredible service to our country. While I recognize that there are many demands on our state infrastructure funding, and I am hard at work making sure that we continue to invest in our infrastructure at an appropriate level, I am urging New York State Department of Transportation to complete this work as soon as possible, so it can again show proper respect to Mr. Widener’s life and his sacrifice.”
On July 3, 2007, the bridge over Scottsville-Chili Road (State Route 386) was dedicated to U.S. Marine Corps PFC James E. Widener as, The James E. Widener Memorial Bridge. Unfortunately, the bridge is now in poor condition and needs a variety of maintenance repairs to be made. James Edward Widener, from Churchville, joined the Marine Corps at the age of 18 to fight in the Vietnam War. On June 11, 1967, Widener was one of 11 passengers on board a CH-46A Sea Knight helicopter that crashed in South Vietnam, and tragically killed all of the men on board. The site of the crash could not be accessed due to enemy forces in the area and later that month, enemy activity prevented a second attempt to patrol the site. It was not until May 2005 that American officials became aware of Widener’s whereabouts and recovered his body. In 2006, 39 years after James Widener tragically died, was he given a proper military burial at Arlington National Cemetery.
In his letter to the New York State Department of Transportation official, Schumer highlighted that the James E. Widener Memorial Bridge serves as a testament to the honor and commitment this man has shown the United States, and that the bridge should reflect the quality and caliber of his service.
A copy of Senator Schumer’s letter appears below:
Regional Construction Engineer
New York State Department of Transportation
1530 Jefferson Road
Rochester, NY 14623
Dear Mr. Traver,
I recently received a letter from one of my constituents, regarding the current state of disrepair at the James E. Widener Memorial Bridge. The bridge, which crosses over Black Creek on Scottsville- Chili Road, is a tribute to a lifelong resident of Churchville who gave his life fighting for this country and I am deeply saddened to hear that the bridge is in need of maintenance.
At the young age of 18, James E. Widener left Churchville Chili High School to bravely serve his country in Vietnam.After being surrounded by heavy enemy fire during a mission, Widener’s helicopter crashed on June 11, 1967. It took 39 long years for his remains to be identified and finally in 2006 he was given a proper military burial at Arlington National Cemetery. The James E. Widener Memorial Bridge is a testament to the honor and commitment this young man has shown our nation. It is only fitting that the state of the bridge reflects the ultimate sacrifice he made for his country. I understand that the New York State Department of Transportation must balance many funding priorities in the region but I ask that you attend to the bridge’s maintenance needs as soon as possible so it can again show proper respect to his life and the community from which he came.
I thank you for your attention to this request. Please don’t hesitate to contact my Rochester office at 585-263-5866with any questions.
United States Senator