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Residents' effort to save Selkirk bridge mounts

After getting little to no response from the county and state on saving the Route 52 bridge in Selkirk, Christine Frankovic has started collecting signatures on a petition to save Ben's Bridge.

Frankovic, 37, lives in South Bethlehem and said she collected 20 signatures in the petition's first 24 hours and had collected more than140 signatures by Monday,Aug. 24. Frankovic, along with Albany County Legislator Richard Mendick, C-Selkirk, were collecting signatures Saturday, Aug. 22, at the Selkirk Fire Department's annual clam steam at the Selkirk Fire Company No. 3 Firehouse.

"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," Frankovic said.

Albany County has recommended the state's Department of Transportation tear down the bridge after it failed an inspection that found it structurally deficient. 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 11,000 feet over about 50 CSX rail lines.

Albany County Commissioner of Public Works Michael Franchini said it would cost $16 million to replace span, about $13 million to repair it and just over $1 million to tear it down.

In a July 31 letter to Frankovic, Robert Hansen, the acting director of planning and program management of the state's DOT, said the final decision is one for the county to make.

"The county has to provide their improvement recommendation (replacement or elimination) to us, and unless it is unreasonable, we intend to support that decision," Hansen wrote.

The county is supporting the elimination of bridge once plans are reviewed by the DOT, according to Franchini, which could take a "couple months" from when plans were submitted in early July.

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