Groundswell to save the bridge; veterans, politicians, environmentalists unite
Transportation officials have been saying for years that the only possible course of action regarding the Pond Eddy Bridge is to tear down the old one and put up a new one. But a growing number of people are rejecting that assertion.
Larry Richardson, who represents the Town of Cocheton on the Upper Delaware Council, said “Some may see this as contradictory because I have supported replacing this bridge. I should like to point out that for a very long time, we’ve been told that it was only possible to replace it, rehabilitation was not an option. I’ve come to once again question that official position.”
Richardson was one of half dozen speakers at a rally at the bridge on May 19, organized by Glenn Pontier, who resigned from the bridge design committee because the committee refused to entertain the option of rehabilitation the existing historic 1904 structure.
Among those who spoke in favor of preserving the bridge was Nadia Rajsz, supervisor of the Town of Lumberland, in which the New York side of the bridge is located. She said she talked to Senator John Bonacic the previous day, and he said he is weighing in with the New York Department of Transportation (DOT) to pull the $4.75 million earmarked for the project, because he sees it as a waste of taxpayer money.
Assemblywoman Aileen Gunther was on hand and said that she too is weighing with DOT. She noted that the bridge’s other name is the All Veterans Memorial Bridge, and she said she had never heard of a veterans memorial being torn down.
At this point the future of the bridge is unclear. According to a report from Laurie Ramie, the acting executive director of the Upper Delaware Council, at the annual meeting of the New York-Pennsylvania Joint Interstate Bridge Commission (JIBC), on May 16 in Binghamton, the commission voted to move forward with the project, but the $4.75 million due from New York is unfunded at this point.
Pontier is hoping the campaign to save the bridge goes viral. He used the event to announce another rally scheduled for August 4, to raise awareness about the issue. He hopes to attract a flotilla of canoes and kayaks to stretch from one side of the river to the other to illustrate the length of the causeway that they say will be built to facilitate the replacement of the bridge, which they say, will block the flow of the river for up to two years.
Because of the possible environmental impacts of the replacement project, Ramsay Adams, the executive director of Catskill Mountainkeeper, said his organization is backing the attempt to save the bridge, as is the high-profile environmental group, National Resources Defense Council.
Go to savethebridge.tumblr.com for more information.