Bethlehem says: 'Keep Ben's bridge'

They did comment, however, that an open Old School Road bridge could have helped save some of structure, which was a total loss.

His property is now a large environmental preserve.

Aside from emergencies, Frankovic also pointed to practical uses of the bridge.

"The closure of this bridge is also an inconvenience. It provides access for all area residents traveling to Route 9, Glenmont, Albany and points north," she said. "We will again have to change our way of life and for how long? Gas is on the average $2.55 a gallon and all detours around the bridge are on the average an additional two and a half miles."

Bethlehem Supervisor Jack Cunningham said he, too, wishes to see the bridge salvaged.

In a letter dated July 20, 2009, he wrote in response to the county's recommendation to close the bridge and sent a copy to area county legislators, the county executive and Franchini.

"I join with local residents, however, to oppose the removal of this bridge with no plans for future replacement," he said. "I feel that its permanent closure creates unnecessary access burdens on these residents and the potential for delays in response time form emergency vehicles."

Overall, Cunningham said, "We would like to see it re-opened."

The supervisor said he has not sought stimulus funds through the American Recovery Act (ARA) because "it is a county issue," but said he doubted the bridge would qualify for stimulus money even if there was another round of funding and it was shovel ready in time.

"There's an extraordinary amount of applications for funds. I spokes with Sen. [Kirstin] Gillibrand's representatives and was told that New York state has appropriated $30 billion for projects," Cunningham said. "But there are $100 billion in requests and [Ben's bridge] is not going to rank high in the priorities."

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