DRYDEN — An alternative plan to a bridge over Route 13 as part of the Dryden Rail Trail has been dismissed, a project organizer said Friday.
The $2 million steel, prefabricated bridge is the current planned connector over Route 13, linking a 10-foot-wide stone dust trail along a former railroad bed between Monkey Run Road and Hallwoods Road. The bridge would go over Route 13 south of Fall Creek and north of the split from Routes 13 and 366.
Resident Bruno Schickel, who was once vice chair of the Dryden Rail Trail Task Force before he resigned several years ago, has proposed in its place a trail a quartermile north and parallel, under an existing Route 13 highway bridge that crosses Fall Creek.
While some work would need to be done creating the trail down to the paved path under the bridge and back on the eastern side of the bridge, the undertaking would likely be in the range of $20,000 to $30,000, Schickel said. By comparison, the proposed bridge is expected to cost around $2 million and be funded through federal, state and county grants.
The bridge over Route 13 will also have to be maintained, which Schickel said would be paid for by Dryden taxpayers.
Additionally, Schickel’s plan would add about a half-mile more of trail, which he sees as a benefit.
Eminent domain of land would not be required either, he said.
“To me, it’s a no-brainer,” Schickel said of his plan.
Schickel, who owns a construction business, said he has equipment available to make his plan a reality.
The Dryden Rail Trail Task Force has considered his suggestion among other options when deciding how to connect the western and eastern sides of the planned section of the trail, but “there are major reasons why we have not chosen that,” said Bob Beck, the chair of the Dryden Rail Trail Task Force.
He said Schickel’s plan would make bicycling more of a challenge by having cyclists go up and down steeper slopes than if they were to cross over a planned bridge. The trail in Schickel’s plan on the eastern side of Route 13 would be right next to the road, requiring fences, Beck said.
“The trail, in its mission, encourages bicycles and not just for recreational uses,” Beck said.
He said that the trail could be used for commuting purposes, which a bridge would make easier than going down and up the sides of Route 13.
Dryden Deputy Town Supervisor Dan Lamb said he believed that Schickel’s proposal would lead people to cross Route 13 as a shortcut, which, without a way of going over or under Route 13, could put people at risk of injuries.
“For that reason, that idea was shelved,” he said. “We’re not going to build a trail that’s inherently dangerous.”
While the task force met Thursday to review comments from the public about a recent open house on the Route 13 bridge, Beck said the project is still in the design phase.
Construction is not slated to begin until the summer of 2022.
The rail trail, when fully completed, would connect the village of Dryden and city of Ithaca, according to town maps.
The trail includes the existing Jim Schug Trail between the villages of Dryden and Freeville. Parts of the rail trail between Varna and Freeville and Freeville and Dryden are being developed. Segments in Freeville, Dryden and Ithaca have already been completed.
In total, the length would be about 10.4 miles, Beck said.