State and county officials said the Mohawk Valley Gateway Overlook pedestrian bridge will be opened to the public on Labor Day, Sept. 5.
“The finish line is in sight,” said state Canal Corp. spokesman Shane Mahar.
The fraught and occasionally politicized process of building a pedestrian bridge over the Mohawk River in Amsterdam began in 2005 with the passage of the Rebuild and Renew New York Transportation Bond Act.
The act included $16.5 million for the bridge, which was touted as a way to revitalize the city’s economy by connecting neighborhoods in the southern portion of the city and Erie Canalway Trail with the Amsterdam’s downtown district and Riverlink Park on the north side of the river.
Construction began in 2014 and provided 300 jobs, according to the governor’s office, and the bridge was slated to be completed in the spring or early summer of this year.
Throughout the process, some members on the city’s Common Council voiced doubts that the bridge would have a positive effect on the local economy, while others continually championed waterfront revitalization.
Mahar said the project went over budget, which pushed the opening date back.
“There were several artistic elements that were removed in order to meet budget after construction began,” Mahar said. An additional $1 million in funding was later secured for the artistic elements, said Mahar.
“Once we added the artistic elements in, we had to re-sequence the construction time line and that’s why the deadline has been pushed back from the earlier part of the summer to Labor Day,” Mahar said.
The largest and most time-consuming artistic element to be installed on the bridge is a design overlay on the bridge’s concrete surface that includes different colors, patterns and text, and adds a textural component to the bridge. Mahar said all of the heavy equipment and materials must be moved off the bridge, and the concrete cleaned, before the overlay can be applied. This process, he added, will take about a month.
“The overlay is the final part of the project,” said Mahar.
According to an earlier article in The Daily Gazette, the $1 million in additional funding came from a pool of state funds set aside for waterfront projects.
Andrew Santillo, a spokesman for the Montgomery County Executive’s Office, said the bridge will revitalize Amsterdam’s downtown, increase tourism and bring more people into the county. “Also, connecting the south side and the Erie Canalway Trail to the downtown is an important feature,” he said.
Mahar said despite pushing the project’s completion date back, everyone involved knows the end is in sight and bridge’s completion is important to Amsterdam and Montgomery County.
“The conversations we’ve had with the local folks is that they understand the construction time frame and why we’re now pushing it back a little bit,” he said. “I think everyone agrees we want the construction to be done right.”
Mahar said the Canal Corp. will own the pedestrian bridge and be responsible for capital improvements over its lifetime, while the city will manage day-to-day upkeep like trash pickup and snow removal.
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