SCHUMER: CRUMBLING ASHFORD AVENUE BRIDGE IS PUTTING DRIVERS AT RISK; FED FUNDING IS IN PLACE TO MAKE CRITICAL REPAIRS BUT PROJECT NEEDS FINAL SIGN-OFF TO GET UNDERWAY – SENATOR PUSHES FEDS TO WORK WITH STATE & COUNTY TO GET PROJECT APPROVED ASAP; REPAIRS WILL IMPROVE CONDITIONS FOR 20,000 DRIVERS PER DAY
Ashford Avenue Bridge That Provides Key Connection To Saw Mill River Parkway & NYS Thruway For 20K Riders Each Day Is In Deplorable Condition & Needs Immediate Rehabilitation – Structure Has Degraded So Much That Pieces of Concrete Tumbled Onto Cars On NYS Thruway in 2012
Plans and Funding Are In Place for $23.5M Rehabilitation Project That Will Strengthen Structure & Keep Drivers Safe; Schumer Urges Fed Highway Administration to Work With County & State To Get Final Sign-Off On Project – Schumer Urges Feds To Cut Through Bureaucratic Red Tape & Expedite Repairs
Schumer: It Is Time To Get Ashford Avenue Bridge On The Road To Permanent Recovery
Today, at Firefighters Park in Ardsley, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer pushed to get final approvals needed for plans to make much-needed permanent repairs to the Ashford Avenue Bridge, which provides a critical connection between Ardsley and Dobbs Ferry. This bridge has deteriorated significantly over the years to the point that pieces of concrete tumbled off of it in June of 2012 on to the New York State Thruway below. Schumer said that over 20,000 drivers per day use this bridge and many more travel underneath it on both the New York State Thruway and the Saw Mill River Parkway, and delays in rehabilitation of the bridge are putting drivers both on the bridge and beneath it in imminent danger. Therefore, Schumer said, making repairs should be a priority. Schumer explained that, in order for the project to move forward, final approval will ultimately be required from both the state and federal government. Schumer called on the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) to work with the New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT) and the County, which is in the process of ironing out the final details, to get the plan approved right away. The proposed plan, which is awaiting final approval, would replace and install new support piers, roadway decking, bridge railings and more.
“The Ashford Avenue Bridge has been deteriorating for years and we cannot allow this critical repair project to slip through the cracks. That is why I am calling on the Federal Highway Administration to work with the New York State Department of Transportation and Westchester County to get this plan for rehabilitation and repair approved as soon as possible,” said Senator Schumer. “More than 20,000 commuters use this bridge each day and tens of thousands more drive underneath it on the New York State Thruway and Saw Mill River Parkway. We cannot afford to have another scare where concrete falls on to drivers below. We must get this bridge on the road to recovery and I am pushing everyone involved to do just that.”
The Ashford Avenue Bridge was built in 1950 and connects the Villages of Ardsley and Dobbs Ferry. The bridge traverses the Saw Mill River, Saw Mill River Parkway, South County Trailway, and the New York State Thruway, making it a major commuter route in Westchester. The four-lane span also carries more than 20,000 vehicles each day. That is why, Schumer said, it is especially important that this bridge is kept in top-notch shape for the sake of resident and traveler safety. The Ashford Avenue Bridge, however, has been the lowest-rated county-owned bridge in Westchester for several years. While the ramp to the bridge was last rehabilitated in 1992, Schumer said the bridge itself is still in desperate need of repair. This bridge has deteriorated significantly over the years to the point that, just two years ago, pieces of concrete tumbled off of it onto the New York State Thruway below. Additionally, following a fatal accident in July 2014, the structural integrity of the bridge was called into question after 18 feet of bridge railing was knocked out by the crash.
There is currently a proposal making its way to the final approval stage that would replace and install new support piers, roadway decking, bridge railings and more. Schumer explained that this project requires approvals from both the New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT) and the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), and that a proposal was sent to FHWA in September. Schumer said that FHWA sent back comments on this proposal that the county is working to address. As the County gets ready to submit its final proposal to NYSDOT, who then submits it to FHWA, Schumer is urging the FHWA to work with the county and NYSDOT to ensure the project has all of the components it needs to be approved right away. Schumer said this project should be a high priority for FHWA and the agency should do what it can to help get this project over the finish line.
The total cost of the project is estimated at approximately $23.5 million and includes the design, construction, inspection and other project-related tasks. Of this, the federal government is expected to provide $5.6 million – of which Schumer personally secured $2.06 million – the state is expected to provide a little over $600,000, and the county is committed to providing the remaining $17.5 million through bonding. Schumer said the project could begin as early as March 2015 if it is quickly approved by the FHWA and NYSDOT. Schumer said that the sheer size and scope of the project, coupled with the significant cost of the repairs initially caused years of delay at the beginning stages of the project and now that all financial resources are committed, it can no longer afford to wait to be repaired. Schumer said that this deteriorating bridge has created a hazard for commuters and therefore urged the state and federal authorities to cut through any bureaucratic red-tape in order to expedite repairs for the sake of the 20,000 plus drivers that use the Ashford Avenue Bridge each day.
Schumer applauded the County for allocating the necessary resources to finalize this project and is eager to see FHWA cut red tape to finalize planning and begin construction on this important artery for commuters and residents of Westchester County. Schumer said these repairs have been long-sought by the County and he has been involved in this project since its early stages. As far back as 2004, Westchester began to plan for much-needed short and long term repairs. In 2005, Schumer helped to secure a $2.08 million earmark in Washington to aid these bridge repairs. However, due to the sheer size and scope of making repairs, coupled with the significant price tag of $23.5 million in total costs, it has been difficult to get repairs underway. Schumer said that, although the County has done everything possible to implement short term repairs, the previous band aid fixes are no longer sufficient to maintain the safety of this important bridge. Now that funding is in place, Schumer said, it is time to move forward with repairs that will make this bridge safer for all motorists.
Schumer also noted that Congresswoman Nita Lowey has played a major role in this project and also helped secure the 2005 earmark for the Ashford Avenue Bridge project.
“We must do all we can to improve our local infrastructure, especially at such high-traffic areas. Since 2005, I have worked to secure federal dollars to fix the Ashford Avenue Bridge, and the 2012 incident makes it crystal clear that upgrading this piece of infrastructure cannot wait any longer,” Congresswoman Nita Lowey. “I join Senator Schumer as well as state and local officials in calling on agencies across every level of government to put this federal money I secured to work and fix this bridge. The safety of our communities and the economic vitality of the Lower Hudson Valley depend on it.”
Schumer was joined by officials from Ardsley and County Legislator MaryJane Shimsky, who is Chair of the Committee on Infrastructure. Schumer was also joined by District Representative for Congresswoman Nita Lowey, Kathlyn Connolly.
“The Ashford Avenue Bridge has been in bad shape for some time, and promises to get worse over the course of another winter. With the Spring 2015 start to the main construction project not too far away, we need all levels of government to make sure everything is ready to go,” said MaryJane Shimsky, County Legislator for Westchester’s 12th District. “I thank Senator Schumer for calling public attention to the next item on the checklist – final approval of the plans – and stand ready to work with him, the County and the State to make sure the project starts on time.”
A copy of Senator Schumer’s letter to the FHWA & NYS DOT appears below:
Dear Acting Administrator Nadeau and Commissioner McDonald
I write today to ask for your help in advancing a project critical to residents of Westchester County. The Ashford Avenue Bridge traverses the Saw Mill River, Saw Mill River Parkway, South County Trailway, and the New York State Thruway and is a major commuter route for residents of Westchester and the surrounding area. The span carries more than 20,000 commuters a day, and yet in recent years the bridge’s condition has been deteriorating significantly. The local community is advancing a project to address these issues and I am writing today to request your help and continued cooperation in advancing that project.
I understand that there are still a few technical issues that the County is working to address, but once they submit their final plans to both of your agencies, I would ask your combined cooperation in approving and advancing those final plans as quickly as possible so that construction can get underway. The $23.5 million project is critically important to maintaining this commuter route and ensuring the safety of New Yorkers who use the bridge every day. The bridge’s condition is so bad that as recently as two years ago pieces of concrete were falling off the bridge and onto the New York State Thruway below, which is why it’s critically important that we advance this project right away.
With your help and cooperation, as well as your expedited approval of the final plans, I hope that this project can get under construction early next year. The funding for this project is already in place, and once Westchester County finishes submitting final plans to your agencies I urge you to expedite them and give the final approvals needed to allow this project to move forward.
I appreciate your consideration of this request and your continued work on this issue. Should you have any question or need further information please do not hesitate to contact my office.
Charles E. Schumer
United States Senator
Previous Article Next Article