October 25, 2021

Dryden to appeal bridge plan denial

Travis Dunn/contributing photographer

The town of Dryden wants to replace this historic one-lane bridge on Freese Road in Varna with a two-lane bridge that incorporates the trussed facade of the old bridge, but the plan has met opposition from both state agencies and some neighbors, for different reasons. The town decided Thursday to ask the state to reconsider its opposition.

DRYDEN — The Dryden town board voted Thursday to push back against government agencies that opposed the town’s plan to replace a historic one-lane bridge on Freese Road that spans Fall Creek.

The board prepared a document that addressed the state and federal rejection point by point, and reiterated the reasons why the town chose the plan it did. The board voted 4-0, with board member Linda Lavine abstaining, to send the document to the relevant agencies.

The board seeks to replace the old bridge with a new two-lane bridge and a pedestrian walkway which would incorporate the historic trussed facade of the old bridge.

However, the state Department of Transportation, the Federal Highway Administration and the State Historic Preservation Office have rejected the plan, telling the board it must build a new bridge nearby, but keep the existing bridge intact to preserve its historic character.

“The option that they’re asking us to do would make nobody happy except some bureaucrat in Albany,” said Dan Lamb, the town’s deputy supervisor.

Lamb said the board document presents the town’s case, and he hopes the agencies will reconsider.

The board argues that keeping the existing bridge will cost $5,000 a year in maintenance. The board is also concerned about the old bridge increasing the risk of flooding, because one of its supports is in the water and could impede water flow, Lamb said. The board also has concerns about deterioration of the old bridge along the water line.

Moreover, the two bridge option would force the town board to buy adjacent land from landowners who are likely to oppose the move.

The town board has argued the bridge needs to be expanded to two lanes for safety. That proposal has been vehemently opposed by some neighbors who want the one-lane bridge to be kept intact.

Lamb, however, said the DOT also recommends against keeping a one-lane bridge.

The town has already secured $2.7 million in state money for the Freese Road bridge project.

Board member Linda Lavine said she abstained from the vote because she thinks the two-lane bridge idea is too expensive. She would prefer that the town stick with a one-lane bridge option. She disagrees with the idea that a two-lane bridge would be safer. Instead, she thinks it would be more dangerous, because it would allow traffic to drive faster through the area.

“You don’t want anything that’s going to speed up traffic,” she said.

The next move is the state’s. “We hope they’ll see things our way,” Lamb said.