The city of Johnstown is facing $150,000 in unbudgeted bridge repair costs after the state Department of Transportation red-flagged the Miller Street bridge.
City Engineer Chad Kortz said the bridge is steel girder with a concrete deck built in the 1920s. He said DOT has determined the floor beams of the bridge have become too rusted, limiting its ability to support the bridge’s 4-ton weight limit. The DOT red flag means the city must take action to mitigate the risk of collapse.
“It’s a pretty light duty bridge as it is, but it’s getting to the point where we’re going to have to do something with those beams. It’ll be a fairly extensive repair,” Kortz said.
Johnstown has budgeted approximately $10,000 for miscellaneous repairs and has another $103,000 in its contingency fund. City Treasurer Mike Gifford said he doesn’t recommend the city spend all of its contingency money to repair the bridge.
“I really don’t know how we’d pay for that right now. That bridge might have to be closed for a year,” Gifford said.
Gifford anticipates at the end of this year Johnstown could have between $800,000 and $1 million in its surplus — its unspent tax revenues built up over a period of years. He recently told the Common Council the city could have a $180,000 deficit at year’s end because of declining sales tax receipts. Gifford said the city will use its surplus to fill the budget deficit if it materializes at the end of the year, but it would be unwise to spend more of it on anything else.
Kortz said the city could reduce traffic to one lane on the Miller Street bridge as a stop-gap measure rather than closing the bridge entirely. Johnstown has hired Latham-based Wilbur Smith Associates to provide a cost estimate for repairs to the bridge.
Johnstown has applied for federal funding for the anticipated $1.5 million cost of replacing a bridge on North Perry Street, also red-flagged. The federal funds are dispersed by the state DOT, so the city is waiting for the state’s budget to pass before it will know if the money is available.
Gifford said the city will need to borrow the $1.5 million for the North Perry Street bridge up front and then be reimbursed by the federal money. He said it’s possible the city could attach the cost of the Miller Street bridge repair project to the same bond.
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Categories: News, Schenectady County