All 112 NY Works accelerated bridge projects, including the Western Gateway Bridge, have been completed, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Friday.
The Western Gateway Bridge, which spans the Mohawk River between the city of Schenectady and the village of Scotia, was the final project to be finished. All lanes were reopened in mid-January.
The renovation effort drew criticism when a view-obstructing concrete wall was erected on the bridge’s western side without solicitation of community input regarding the design.
Enacted as part of the 2012-2013 state budget, Cuomo’s NY Works program allotted $212 million to address bridge deck and structural replacement or rehabilitation needs on approximately 112 bridges across the state. That included a total of 32 bridge projects — including the Western Gateway Bridge — which were contracted through the design-build process.
The design-build process allows for the combining of design and construction services into single contracts.
The $16.9 million Western Gateway Bridge project, which began in October 2012, rehabilitated the bridge, replaced the bridge deck and reconfigured the driving lanes to one 11-foot travel lane in each direction plus one 14-foot shared-use lane in each direction. The shared-use lanes accommodate both motorists and bicyclists following the signed State Bike Route 5 over the bridge.
The bridge also now features on its east side a 10-foot multi-use path for pedestrians and bicyclists. That path connects existing paths on both sides of the river. The west side of the bridge has a 5-foot sidewalk, which complies with Americans with Disabilities Act standards.
The project originally called for simply replacing the bridge deck and sidewalks, but in response to community input, the state DOT expanded the project to include additional pedestrian and bicycle amenities.
There was a public outcry when a cement wall went up on the western side of the bridge. In September, DOT announced that the wall would not be duplicated on the eastern side. Instead, a steel railing was used.
At that time, DOT spokesman Bryan Viggiani said the decision to allow the railing on the eastern side was made because there would be a multi-use trail on that side of the bridge. The railing will provide nice views for bicyclists and pedestrians, he explained.
Since then, community members have called for the solid wall erected on the side of the bridge that faces Glen Sanders Mansion to be replaced with a railing, but that will not be done, Viggiani said.
It’s not plausible because it would add considerable cost and time to the project, he said.
The public has also voiced concern about the lack of fencing between the sidewalk and the roadway, but there is no fence in the design plans, Viggiani said.