Ben's Bridge still standing one year later

Due to a weight limit on the bridge, fire trucks were not able to drive over the span before the closure.

The bridge was also closed for a time in the late '80s until 1991 under similar circumstances. In that instance, CSX did contribute to repair costs; the company owns the bridge's superstructure and county owns the rest.

South Bethlehem resident Christine Frankovic said she'd like to see the county seek out alternative revenue sources to get a new bridge built.

"No one can reasonably expect Albany County to pick up the tab alone to replace the bridge," she said.

80 percent of the demolition cost will be covered by federal funds through the Capital District Transportation Committee's 5-year plan. The county will cover the remaining 20 percent.

Frankovic also expressed worries about emergency services being denied use of the bridge.

"Fire, ambulance and emergency personnel need to use an alternate route to get to us," she said. "For lack of a better term, we feel as if we sit on the wrong side of the tracks."

Frankovic carried a petition to replace or repair the bridge after it was first closed, which garnered over 200 signatures of southern Bethlehem residents.

Franchini said since the initial analysis a year ago, the county has been committed to the demolition plans.

"No [more] thought has been given to trying to reconstruct the bridge," he said. "We're very careful with our analysis and our research...we really feel like we totally analyzed this, and feel like we're doing the right thing, especially considering the financial issues we're all facing."

Those who have been affected by the closure are unlikely to see another bridge springing up anytime soon. The estimated cost to replace the bridge was $18 million a year ago, an estimate Franchini said has probably inflated.

For residents of South Bethlehem, who are often quick to say they are marginalized, the closure has put them even further away from the town center.

"We're a relatively small part of the greater part of Bethlehem and physically cut off. And it's becoming a psychological cutoff as well," said Miller. "You feel like you're more in no man's land than ever before.""

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