Forge Hill Bridge replacement urged
The first steps toward repairing Forge Hill Road Bridge in New Windsor were taken this past week as federal, state, county and local officials gathered at one end of the washout to announce plans for its replacement.
As proof of how much the replacement is needed, there was last-minute confusion over where the press conference would be held. As reporters headed to the east end of the bridge an emergency message went out – make that the west side, please.
Eventually, Congresswoman Nan Hayworth, Orange County Executive Ed Diana, State Assemblywoman Nancy Calhoun, New Windsor Supervisor George Green and other officials joined to call for an end to the confusion that has held up repair of the bridge.
A little over a year ago, a section of the bridge was washed out by the Moodna Creek during Hurricane Irene. Weakened by that storm, Tropical Storm Lee finished off the span a couple of weeks later.
Rep. Hayworth blamed red tape at the state level for delaying the work with an assist from the federal government. She said she wrote to the state Department of Transportation asking Transportation Commissioner Joan McDonald to release money for the project. That letter went out on July 25, she said.
Of $90 million in Federal Highway Administration money approved for New York State, about $1.6 million would go toward the $2 million needed to repair Forge Hill Road Bridge. Orange County, owner of the bridge, would pay the remaining $400,000.
Executive Diana said the county signed an agreement Aug. 29 that would fund the hiring of a consultant to begin planning the work within a week of when federal and state officials sign off on the project.
State Transportation Department officials estimate contracts for the work could be awarded as early as November 2013 if the agreement reaches the state by this week. Actual work on the project could take as long as two and a half years.
That time could be shortened slightly if traffic safety and historic preservation studies can be expedited.
New Windsor Supervisor George Green pointed to increased traffic on Caesar’s Lane as evidence of how much the bridge needs to be replaced.
“It was never meant to carry this kind of traffic,” he said.
By ALLAN GAUL