Schenectady County

Princetown residents worried about bridge closure

Jack Sise’s livelihood at the Briar Creek Golf Course could hinge on the proposal the county chooses

Jack Sise’s livelihood at the Briar Creek Golf Course could hinge on the proposal the county chooses to replace the aging Pangburn Road bridge.

As of now, there is enough federal funding to demolish and replace the half-century-old structure over the course of five months during the spring and summer. But the bridge would need to be closed entirely to keep the project under budget and Sise fears the nearly eight-mile detour included in preliminary plans could cause the majority of his customers to go elsewhere for a day on the links.

“For a golf course, those five months you do 90 percent of your annual revenue,” he said Tuesday. “Unfortunately, that’s almost an entire year’s revenue that would be lost.”

Sise is among a growing number of Princetown residents expressing concern over the prospect of closing the bridge over the Normans Kill Creek for nearly a half year. The bridge lies about a half-mile south of Route 7 and serves as a main corridor connecting the Interstate 88 interchange in Rotterdam with Gifford Church Road, just north of Route 20.

The proposed detour would lead drivers south of the bridge construction to Gifford Church Road. From there, the detour winds east to Dunnsville Road and eventually back to Route 7, where it crosses over the Thruway.

The bridge was last repaired in 1993 and has markedly deteriorated. Both the deck and abutments are showing signs of advanced deterioration, though the bridge itself isn’t in any immediate danger of being downgraded.

The area around Pangburn Road is one of the more residential sections of the largely rural town. The bridge itself carries about 2,200 vehicles per day.

Vernon Drive resident Pat Bishop lives about 500 feet south of the proposed replacement and fears the impact the full bridge closure would have on her day-to-day living. She said five months of taking the proposed detour would add up to a monumental cost for residents who have little other choice.

“This is going to disrupt people for many months,” she said. “It’s going to cost us about $1,000 over five months just to get out of here.”

Bishop said the proposed detour also brings motorists along a route where the Golub Corporation is in the process of relocating a stretch of Dunnsville Road. She said motorists would likely cut through the Country Walk Estates development in Rotterdam to avoid this construction and the normal truck traffic on Route 7.

“It just doesn’t really seem well thought out,” she said.

Sise said project planners need to consider other alternatives that will at least keep one lane of the bridge open. If the project can’t be done in stages, he’s urging county officials to at least stall the work until late into the construction season, so his golf course can still operate for part of the summer.

“Alternatively, if they’re going to close the bridge down, we’ve asked them to push the construction back as far as possible,” he said.

Schenectady County Spokesman Joe McQueen said there’s no reason for alarm quite yet. He said county officials are keenly aware of the impact a full closure will have on the area and are trying to build a case to receive more federal funding. Part of that process is soliciting comments from the various stakeholders.

“We don’t want to have to close the bridge,” he said. “We want feedback and we want the information that’s going to help us make that case.”

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