DOT eyes change in Fonda bridge plan

The state Department of Transportation would prefer building a new Route 30A bridge to the west of t

The state Department of Transportation would prefer building a new Route 30A bridge to the west of the existing bridge that spans the CSX railroad in the village, but after hearing several pleas to build to the east, officials at DOT said Thursday they may reconsider that option.

About 27 residents and property owners attended an informal meeting with DOT representatives seeking input from those whose properties would be affected by the project tentatively slated to start in 2010.

DOT Region II Regional Design Engineer Stephen Zywiak told the group the DOT’s preferred plan is to let traffic flow over the current structure while a new bridge is built to the west — an area that currently houses a gas station, the Dairy Deli ice-cream shop, offices for the Montgomery County Chamber of Commerce and a bus facility owned by Brown Transportation.

Fonda Mayor Kim Flander said the economics involved in eliminating or moving the gas station and other businesses should be considered before plans are finalized.

The elimination of those businesses would cause the loss of nearly $8,000 in property taxes for the village along with lost sales tax revenue, Flander said.

“I’m asking just to reconsider it. … I don’t want to lose any of them,” Flander said.

Regardless of which side of the current bridge the replacement is built, officials learned there will be minimal impact on the 167-year-old Fonda Fairgrounds, DOT officials said.

A retaining wall would have to be built, Zywiak said, but none of the buildings need to be impacted.

Fonda Fair Manager Jake Sammons urged the DOT to consider the project’s impact on the fairgrounds that, including the annual fair and a regular schedule of events at Fonda Speedway, draw about 250,000 people a year.

The fairgrounds represent an economic impact of about $6.2 million, Sammons said.

“I don’t want to see anybody hurt,” Sammons said.

Village resident Pauline O’Neil said she was concerned with the loss of the Dairy Deli because there isn’t believed to be any land available in the village where a new ice-cream outlet could be built.

“The ice-cream place is the only place for our kids to go,” O’Neil said.

State DOT representatives at the meeting said a new bridge to the west was considered a better option simply from a safety perspective: It’s possible truck traffic would have to be routed along Park Street then up to Route 30A, and that means trucks crossing the railroad tracks at grade, increasing the potential for traffic backup and pedestrian safety hazards.

Zywiak said officials at the DOT intend to consider the input received Thursday and make a decision. If the DOT reconsiders, there will have to be another public information session prior to a public hearing on finalized designs.

The project for the bridge is tentatively slated to be bid out in October 2009, and the replacement project would take up the majority of the construction season in 2010, Zywiak said.

Zywiak said another meeting will likely be scheduled for May, at which point villagers may learn whether the DOT will instead build to the east.

The bridge, built in 1949, has to be replaced, Zywiak said. Because of its condition, it requires increased inspections. The bridge currently carries about 11,300 vehicles daily with 13 percent of that being truck traffic.

Categories: Schenectady County

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