Concern widens over narrow bridge

CHATHAM–The Town Board had more discussion on the Albany Turnpike Bridge in East Chatham at its meeting last week, with several residents requesting that the board ask the state to do a safety study on the one-lane bridge before the town agrees to take ownership of the span from CSX.

The three board members who attended the September 17 meeting had a resolution before them to urges the state to take action on traffic safety issues at the bridge. Last March the board approved a plan by the town engineering firm, Barton and Loguidice, to temporarily redesign the entrance to the bridge from state Route 295, a proposal intended to slow traffic entering the bridge. That plan has been held up at the state Department of Transportation for review but town Supervisor Jesse DeGroodt said that the DOT has sent a letter to the board saying the agency had reviewed a traffic count at the intersection.

Residents have circulated petitions asking that the state look into safety issues of crossing the bridge, and Councilwoman Maria Lull said that she wanted the petition included in the resolution the board sends to the state. Ms. Lull is running for town supervisor on the Democratic line in the November general election against Mr. DeGroodt, the Republican candidate.

“It’s an unsafe situation,” Ms. Lull said. She noted how long it had been since the Town Board approved changing the entrance to the bridge without hearing from the state.

Mr. DeGroodt suggested that the town engineers should come to the next meeting to discuss the plans.

Ms. Lull said the town should have negotiated a better solution for the replacing the old bridge on Albany Turnpike at the intersection with Route 295 before the span was replaced last year. CSX, the railroad that owns the tracks beneath the bridge, paid $1.3 million to design and build the new bridge.

“I would have negotiated with CXS harder,” said Ms. Lull.

Mr. DeGroodt said that CXS did not give the town much choice on the design of the bridge, adding that the board knew there would be problems. “You sat here on the board,” Mr. DeGroodt said to Ms. Lull, referring to the negotiations with CSX.

He said that he has reached out to state and federal officials about the bridge and the board will have to look at paying for a traffic light with town funds if the town gets no help from the state.

The board has yet to take ownership of the bridge from CSX, since the town does not consider the project finished.

Also at the meeting:

  • The board tabled a motion to approve the agreement with PS21, a performance space on Route 66 that received approval from the town Zoning and Planning boards to build a permanent space at the site, which has been an outdoor, summertime venue. The proposed agreement calls for a PS21 staff person who answers calls from neighbors about noise complaints and test the sound levels to make sure they are not exceeding agreed upon levels. The board tabled the motion so members would have time to review the agreement
  • The board will also review a peddlers’ permit resolution, which they did not vote on at the meeting but plan to review. After they approve the agreement the board will have to set a public hearing on the new law
  • Documents discussed at the meetings will be available online at the town’s website the Friday before the next scheduled meeting so the public can review them.

In addition to Mr. DeGroodt and Ms. Lull, Councilwoman Jean Rohde attended the meeting

The next Town Board meeting will be Thursday, October 15 at 7 p.m. in the Town Hall.

To contact reporter Emilia Teasdale email

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