SCHENECTADY — Bids have been awarded to remove the aging pedestrian bridges spanning Interstate 890 near the General Electric campus.
Latham-based Bette & Cring received the award and Schenectady officials are awaiting concurrence from the state Department of Transportation.
“All of this should happen within 30 days,” City Engineer Chris Wallin said recently.
Wallin expects the project, which will result in the temporary closure of I-890, to take 30 days.
“The main removal of the structures will most likely be very fast,” Wallin said.
Removing the ramps on each side will likely take more time, he said.
A tunnel running underneath I-890 will also be filled in as part of the project.
The exact schedule has yet to be determined, Wallin said.
ALL OPTIONS WEIGHED
The two bridges slated for demolition were built in 1968 with the purpose of linking GE to the city.
Usage dropped following GE workforce reductions.
City officials initially considered restoring the structures.
But the City Council recommended in 2017 the bridges come down after an engineering study determined that $1.6 million in federal grant money, most of which was originally awarded for rehabilitation, wasn’t going to be nearly enough for the $3 million repair price tag.
Even then, only 15-20 years would be added to their lifespans.
And changes in disabilities-access regulations mean the ramps are too steep and narrow to meet modern codes.
Removal is slated to cost $1.34 million.
A third structure, the Altamont Avenue overpass, will remain.
“It’s in good shape, and we’re going to ensure it remains in good shape,” Wallin said.
GE management and Schenectady County Community College have supported their removal.
The bridges are owned by the city, though the fact that they cross an interstate highway qualified them for federal funding.
Wallin acknowledged some GE employees have said they used the structures for jogging and to get to the Mohawk-Hudson bike path.
City officials are working on mapping out potential detour routes, he said.
Removal will allow the city to better allocate funding to infrastructure projects that benefit all stakeholders, he said, not just GE employees.
Wallin noted the extensive process to study restoration of the structures, as well as the public hearing process.
“This is the public input process done right,” he said.