In an open field chewed up by heavy equipment and with workers in hard hats already cutting through concrete nearby, Amsterdam Mayor Ann Thane on Tuesday proclaimed the official start of construction of the Mohawk Valley Gateway Overlook.
“This is so exciting for the city of Amsterdam,” she told the crowd.
Beaming, she thanked the people of Amsterdam and those she felt contributed to the birth of the pedestrian bridge, including U.S. Rep. Paul D. Tonko, D-Amsterdam, and Brian U. Stratton, director of the state Canal Corp., who also spoke at the news conference.
The Mohawk Valley Gateway Overlook will span the Mohawk River and connect the south and north sides of the city. The $16.5 million project was funded through the 2005 Rebuild and Renew New York Transportation Bond Act.
Tonko spoke of the possible influx of new business along the waterfront, as well as the ability of tourists to walk from downtown to the South Side to check out local restaurants and historical sites.
“This will leverage private-sector investment,” he said. “This will alert the eyes and ears of the private sector.”
In a news release, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo welcomed the new construction, saying it would create approximately 300 jobs and that “once completed, this project will offer an unparalleled connection between the north and south sides of Amsterdam, which will make exploring the best of the city’s amenities and attractions easier than ever.”
Opponents of the bridge have criticized it for not directly connecting the South Side to downtown Amsterdam, which led to some squabbling on the City Council and delays in the project. However, Thane she never doubted the bridge would one day be reality.
“I always had faith for this project and in our community’s vision for the future,” she said.
As for critics of the project on the City Council, Thane said they “have difficulty envisioning a pathway to our future. This project will be transformational. It will equate to millions of dollars for this community.”