CARS HOMES JOBS

Bridge appeals to 8-year-old inner self

Saturday, June 29, 2013
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In Amsterdam, they’re nearly done kicking around the idea of a new pedestrian bridge linking the city’s downtown to the South Side neighborhood.

The Mohawk Valley Gateway Overlook — a 475-foot crossing of the Mohawk — will get started this fall, after a decade of people getting their heads around a $16.5 million price tag. The state is paying, but Amsterdam only recently agreed to the state’s insistence it pick up the maintenance costs.

The hope is for an impact a little like what’s happened in Poughkeepsie, where the Walkway Across the Hudson draws crowds like free beer on a Saratoga sidewalk.

I can’t see an Amsterdam bridge having the same cachet as the Walkway, a gigantic truss span more than a mile long. In 1888, it was one of the engineering marvels of the world. The bridge carried rail passengers and freight between Philadelphia and Boston on a route that avoided the congestion of Manhattan. It remained in service until 1974.

In its new life as The Walkway Over the Hudson State Historic Park, it gets 500,000 visitors a year. Whether it’s gas and some munchies or an elegant lunch, they’re spending money in Dutchess and Ulster counties.

The walking surface is 212 feet above the Hudson, so strollers can look down on the Mid-Hudson Bridge, a suspension bridge historic in its own right, having opened in 1930.

My inner 8-year-old still thrills to rush over and stand directly above the prow of a freighter steaming upriver to Albany.

This summer the state is shelling out for some improvements to make the walkway, which opened in 2009, even more visitor-friendly.

It will spend $2.8 million installing an elevator from the Poughkeepsie waterfront. New parks are being built under the bridge; the elevator will also make the walkway directly accessible from the Poughkeepsie train station, which is at the end of the line for Metro North.

Amsterdam sees plenty of trains, too — though most are the chugging kind of freight stretches toward the horizon and make my inner 8-year-old want to count the cars.

The Erie Canal bike trail runs on the south side of the river, and maybe some people will bike over to watch the trains pass downtown’s buildings.

Counties respond

The state County Treasurers’ and Finance Officers’ Association on Thursday fired back at state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, who last week found a number of counties, including Saratoga, to be under “fiscal stress.”

The real problem is the cost of state mandates, compounded by the 2 percent tax cap enacted by Gov. Cuomo and the Legislature, the treasurers said.

“If you restrict a local government’s ability to raise revenue and take away its ability to control expenses, it is not a question of if that local government will experience fiscal stress, but rather when,” wrote Chemung County Treasurer Joseph E. Sartori, association president.

Saratoga County Treasurer Sam Pitcheralle is the group’s first vice president.

 
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