Featured News - Current News - Archived News - News Categories

Metro Creative Graphics
Metro Creative Graphics

Town of Grand Island officials welcome $39M bridge upgrades

Sat, May 4th 2024 07:35 am

By Karen Carr Keefe

Senior Contributing Writer

Good news has come Grand Island’s way in the form of a $39 million federal grant earmarked for New York state to improve the South Grand Island Bridges.

Supervisor Peter Marston was aware the funding was in the works and said he is pleased with the ongoing commitment the state has toward maintaining bridge safety.

The New York State Department of Transportation will use the money to repair and modify the south bridges. The work is planned to make them more resistant to seismic activity, ground motion and soil failure.

The integrity of the hometown bridges was a concern for Grand Islanders because of two incidents that happened elsewhere.

•On March 26, a ship lost power, crashed into a supporting column, and toppled the Francis Scott Key bridge in the Port of Baltimore.

•Then, on April 5, a quake rocked the New York City area to the tune of 4.8 on the Richter scale.

“Actually, I think DOT is being proactive,” Marston said. “They’re spending money here and they’re making sure our bridges are safe, and that’s all I can really ask.”

He said the bridges cost so much to replace, that state officials don’t want them to fall into disrepair.

 “I don’t think they’re unsafe, by any means,” Marston said. “I think what happened in Baltimore was tragic, but I don’t think that has any real comparison with what we’re doing here. … We don’t have a live shipping channel underneath our bridge.”

Marston said the Island bridges “are so widely used and so valuable” that the state would never let a situation happen such as what occurred in Baltimore.

Longtime Island resident and boater Gary Roesch reminded the Island Dispatch that the tanker Mercury had a brush with an Island bridge in October of 1974. The tanker scraped one of the bridges in the early morning fog. The ship sustained damage to its masts and smoke stack, but the bridge didn’t suffer any apparent damage

Marston said technology and engineering are always changing, and the state keeps up with what’s needed. The Grand Island bridges are far from new and undergo the consistent maintenance they need, he said. The first of the two south spans was opened in 1935, and the second in 1965.

Marston said the bridges “are constantly in a state of upgrade and retrofit. I think seismic activity has now become a little higher up the food chain around here,” he said, referencing the recent quake.

Town Highway Superintendent Dick Crawford reassured residents not to worry about the possibility that such an accident could happen here, “especially because we travel the bridges every day.”

 “Between the DOT and the Thruway Authority, they have their protocols that they do for inspections – they’re on top of stuff. They have to be,” Crawford said. “That’s why they have the engineers that they have to repair” and maintain the bridges.

Marston added the bridges “are a lifeline, and we know it. People hear or see things, then all of a sudden they get nervous. And then some tragedy happens, and they’re like, ‘We’re next.’ I don’t know that we’re next. I don’t think we are. I’m really confident in the DOT and the Thruway Authority that, to replace those (bridges), would break the bank – they know it. So, they’re going to take care of it. They’re going to keep it going … safely.”

Hometown News

View All News