July 12, 2012 -- County Executive Robert P. Astorino and other county, local, state and federal officials have agreed to a comprehensive approach to address both the short-term and long-term needs of the Ashford Avenue Bridge that connects Ardsley and Dobbs Ferry.
Even before concrete fell from the bridge on June 22 onto the New York State Thruway, the county-owned bridge had been the focus of a $23.4 million rehabilitation project to be completed in 2017. However, that incident led Astorino and others to call for acceleration of that project and interim steps to ensure the safety of the bridge and the roads below it: the Thruway, the Saw Mill River Parkway and Elm Street in Ardsley.
On Wednesday, Astorino met at his office with officials from the villages of Ardsley and Dobbs Ferry, County Legislators MaryJane Shimsky, who represents the area around the bridge, and Catherine Borgia, chair of the Committee on Government Operations, as well as representatives from the state and federal governments to discuss bridge safety and find a consensus on an approach and on a rigorous inspection schedule.
Astorino assured the group that the bridge is safe. "Engineers from the county and the state have inspected it and will continue to inspect it," he said. "At the same time, we have to make sure that the immediate needs of the bridge are addressed and our long-term plan expedited, whenever possible."
During the meeting of more than an hour, the group agreed to the following:
- The county Department of Public Works and Transportation will finalize a contract to address the immediate rehabilitation needs of the bridge. This will include some work on the piers and planking.
- The county will increase frequency of its inspections of the bridge, in an effort to preclude a repeat of the June incident.
- All parties will remain focused on expediting the long-term $23.4 million capital project for rehabilitation of the bridge. This project, in the works for several years with construction slated to begin in 2015, involves many approvals from the villages, the county, the state and the federal government. The parties will seek to expedite reviews to meet a more aggressive timetable, whenever possible. The New York State Department of Transportation, for example, committed to completing its review of some documents by Aug. 1, two months ahead of the current schedule.
- A working group will meet on a monthly basis to keep the project on schedule and to try to address traffic concerns of the two villages in a manner that does not compromise the project's timeline or add costs.
- In addition, engineers from the two villages will meet next week with county engineers to discuss specifics of the long-term rehabilitation plan. They will meet on a regular basis.
- The group requested of the federal and state officials present that if further government funds become available, this project be strongly considered.
In addition to Astorino and the two county legislators, those in attendance at Wednesday's meeting included Ardsley Mayor Peter Porcino, Dobbs Ferry Mayor Hartley Connett, Assemblyman Tom Abinanti and representatives of Sens. Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, Rep. Nita Lowey, state Sen. Andrea Stewart-Cousins, as well as officials from the state Department of Transportation and Federal Highway Administration New York Division Office.