Hinchey: Pond Eddy Bridge Replacement Plan Wastes Taxpayer DollarsMar 27th, 2012 | By HV Insider | Category: In Your Town
$12 Million “Bridge to Nowhere” Would Serve Few, Destroy Current Bridge Listed on National Register of Historic Places
Congressman Maurice Hinchey (D-NY) wrote New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT) Commissioner Joan McDonald on March 21 to request that plans to replace the Pond Eddy Bridge in Sullivan County be changed to preserve and improve the current historic bridge. According to the Federal Highway Administration, NYSDOT plans to spend more than $5 million in partnership with the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) for the construction of a new bridge, which has an estimated total price tag of $12 million. The proposed 40-ton capacity “bridge to nowhere” would extend across the New York border to serve only about a dozen Pennsylvania residents. Hinchey believes the tax dollars would be better spent addressing the growing backlog of bridge and road projects in New York.
“The estimated $12 million construction costs of a new bridge far exceed the total market value of the few homes and private lots that a new structure would ostensibly serve,” Hinchey wrote. “Such use of New York’s limited transportation funding to serve a handful of out of state residents seems inconsistent with the state’s commitment to fiscal responsibility and counter to any rational prioritization for available infrastructure monies.”
Hinchey also noted that the proposed bridge would adversely impact important historic, scenic and recreational resources in the Upper Delaware corridor. Constructed in 1904, the existing bridge slated for removal is one of only four petit truss bridges surviving in New York State and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The NYS Office of Historic Preservation and the national Advisory Council on Historic Preservation both expressed strong concerns in response to PennDOT’s push to remove and replace this structure, charging that the agency did not genuinely consider the option of preserving and rehabilitating the historic Bridge to accommodate the small number of daily crossings.
“The demolition of the Pond Eddy Bridge and the construction of a modern, overpass-style replacement structure would diminish the historic character of the Pond Eddy area and adversely affect scenic, recreational and environmental qualities that contribute to the Upper Delaware’s federal designation as well as its designation as a New York State Scenic Byway,” wrote Hinchey. “As we have seen in previous PennDOT projects in the Upper Delaware, the agency’s replacement bridges are sorely out of place and out of scale with the rural character and historic heritage of the River corridor.”
Hinchey is also concerned that the project would require interruption of the free flow of the Delaware River for at least one year, negatively impacting recreational use of the river, hurting the local tourism industry. Interruption and changes to the River’s flow could also threaten the natural resources of this section of the Delaware, which is classified as Special Protection Waters by the Delaware River Basin Commission.