It’s taken nearly two years, but the bridge carrying Route 9P across Fish Creek is now named to honor Saratoga County’s veterans.
New signs naming the bridge at the outlet of Saratoga Lake the “Saratoga County Veterans Memorial Bridge” were unveiled at a ceremony Tuesday at the bridge. The hope is to make drivers think for a moment about the wartime sacrifices of the living and the dead.
“Any time we can see something dedicated to a veteran, it makes us stop and think,” said state Sen. Roy J. McDonald, R-Saratoga, a Vietnam combat veteran who championed state legislation to rename the bridge.
Special state legislation was needed because the bridge — which was rebuilt for $10.6 million in 2011 — is owned by the state. The legislation passed both houses of the Legislature this summer and was signed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
“It’s a fairly small token for the unbelievable courage and sacrifice of our veterans, the lives that have been lost,” said another speaker, Assemblyman James Tedisco, R-Glenville, who sponsored the Assembly bill.
Several speakers gave credit for originating the idea to Eugene Corsale of Saratoga Springs, a Korean War veteran and activist for veteran’s causes, and they lamented that he was unable to attend. Corsale is recovering from a September heart attack.
“He’s the person I always refer to as a veteran’s veteran,” said Supervisor Mary Ann Johnson, R-Day, chairwoman of the county Veterans Committee.
Corsale had pushed unsuccessfully for either the new Champlain Bridge at Crown Point or the new Batchellerville Bridge at Edinburg to be named as “veterans bridges,” and he first suggested the new Route 9P bridge be named in January 2011.
The effort gained momentum in January, when county Board of Supervisors Chairman Thomas N. Wood, R-Saratoga, said he wanted to make getting the necessary legislation through a priority for the year.
“It is our veterans who have sacrificed,” Wood said. “The naming of the bridge is a way to thank our veterans.”
The state Department of Transportation has installed new signs at each end of the bridge.
The bridge links the city of Saratoga Springs and the town of Saratoga. It is on a route traveled by people going to the Gerald B.H. Solomon National Cemetery in the town of Saratoga.
Lloyd Helman of Ballston Spa, a founder of the Sons of American Legion Post 234, had a deferment as a pressman for the Schenectady Gazette during the Vietnam War, but his father and three uncles served in World War II. His uncle Floyd was a paratrooper who died in the Normandy invasion.
“I don’t think the guys coming home from Vietnam were treated like they should have been,” he said after the ceremony. “What did we lose, something like 59,000, and they got very little thanks. … This makes up for it a little.”