Copake Falls bridge will have one lane open during construction

COPAKE FALLS—After much public input, the decision has been made to leave one lane of the Bash Bish Bridge on Valley View Road open to traffic while the bridge is being replaced.

About 20 local stakeholders attended a virtual meeting held by Columbia County Commissioner of Public Works Ray Jurkowski back in April to discuss recent cost overruns associated with the bridge replacement, which has been planned for several years, and alternative money-saving ways to approach the project.

The most recent engineering consultant’s estimate for the project is approximately $2.2 million, which is much greater than the original estimated funding amount of $1.15 million allocated by the state.

Though it had always been presented to Copake residents and officials that the bridge would be constructed in two phases and at least one lane of traffic would remain open on the bridge at all times—the county’s consultant, now says “this methodology will add approximately $300,000 to the overall construction cost of the project and adds approximately 2 to 3 months to the construction schedule,” according to an email from Mr. Jurkowski to the stakeholders.

Many area residents, the deputy fire chief and the Taconic State Park manager all spoke at the virtual meeting about the dangers and difficulties a plan to close down the bridge entirely during the construction process would cause. Their comments were covered extensively in a May 12 story in The Columbia Paper titled, “County asked to leave lane open on Copake Falls bridge.”

At the May 12 Copake Town Board meeting, Supervisor Jeanne Mettler announced that she had received another email from Mr. Jurkowski, this one saying additional funding had been found ($960,000 towards the construction phase of the Valley View Bridge) to cover cost overruns. The bridge replacement will go forward as a multiphase project that would allow one lane of the bridge to remain open to traffic during the construction period instead of taking an off-site detour onto Town of Copake roadways.

According to Mr. Jurkowski, “The current project schedule proposes the final submission to NYSDOT in June 2022, with Authorization to Advertise being granted in Summer of 2022, Letting in Fall 2022 and Construction starting Spring 2023. It is anticipated that the construction will take approximately 9 months.”

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