Petition circulated to save Ben's bridge

After getting little to no response from the county and state on saving the Route 53 bridge in Selkirk, Christine Frankovic has now started collecting signatures on a petition to Save Ben's Bridge.

Frankovic said she has already collected 20 signatures in about 24 hours since creating it and had over 140 signatures as of Monday, Aug. 24. She also had the petition on hand on Saturday, Aug. 22, during the annual Selkirk Fire Department's Clam Steam.

Frankovic said she will looking for more signatures there and will be speak at the Albany County Legislature's public hearing on Tuesday, Aug. 25, about saving the bridge.

" I want to start a neighborhood coalition to get some people together and have some meetings and possibly consult with a bridge company for their thoughts," she said.

Albany County has recommended to the state's Department of Transportation to tear down the bridge after it failed an inspection and found it was structurally deficient and the bridge has been closed since July 6.

Clough Harbour and Associates was hired by the county to help evaluate three main options for repairing, replacing and removing the bridge. County officials ultimately said the most cost-effective option was to remove the Old School Road bridge that traverses 1,100 feet over about 50 CSX rail lines.

Albany County Commissioner of Public Works Michael Franchini said it would cost $16 million to replace the County Route 53 bridge now known as "Ben's bridge," about $13 million to repair it and just over $1 million to tear it down.

Residents, headed by Frankovic, have been critical of the county's decision to permanently close the bridge citing a slowdown in emergency response times and the inconvenience of being detoured miles away. A similar situation happened in the late 1980s when an argument between the county and then CONRAIL over bridge repairs led to it being closed until 1991.

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