Citing public safety concerns and traffic congestion, town officials, local first responders, and certain residents are renewing their calls for a new span over the Plum Brook River.
The old bridge carried traffic over a tributary of the Muscoot Reservoir, providing a link between routes 100 and 138, where the Golden’s Bridge train station is located.
Built in 1904 on New York City Watershed land, the decrepit span was closed in 1998.
In 2016, the town sought a $5 million grant from the state’s Bridge NY program.
It was backed up by law and fire officials as well as the principal of Kennedy Catholic High School, located on Route 138.
The town argued then that an “artery” from Route 100 to the Route 684 had to be re-established.
Traffic congestion arguments seem especially relevant in light of the impending opening of DeCicco’s and Somers Crossing, a residential development being built on land sandwiched between routes 100 and 202. Not to mention the proposed STEAM academy at the former IBM.
The fire commissioner said then that closing the bridge had caused delays of “many vital minutes” when firefighters had to answer emergency calls at the high school and at St. Joseph’s R.C. Church.
It also hampered calls for assistance from firefighters in Golden’s Bridge, said John J. Markiewicz, fire district board chairman.
Police Chief Michael Driscoll also cited delayed response times, saying St. Joseph’s traffic on Sundays, forced onto Route 138, requires police to manage competing flows.
But the cost of replacing the bridge now, Supervisor Rick Morrissey said at a Town Board meeting in February, could be $10 million.
To close the funding gap, the town might have to seek help from New York City and the state Community Block Grant program—or float a bond.
Plum Brook residents have opposed replacing the bridge.
Among their biggest fears were noise and increased traffic.
In 2007, town and city officials discussed on the issue, but public outcry caused the plan to be scrapped, Morrisey said back then.
The issue re-emerged when state Assemblyman Kevin Byrne and county legislators Michael Kaplowitz an Kitley Covill paid a visit to the Town Board on Thursday, Feb. 14.
Morrissey told the lawmakers that while the city DEP probably needs to tear the bridge down, Somers needs a replacement.
Law enforcement and other first responders still support replacing it.
“It’s a major artery,” Morrissey said.
Covill suggested that first responders write again to the county, which needs to give the city DEP the go-ahead to tear the bridge down, about the
Plum Brook situation. Morrissey promised to share those letters with the county.
Kaplowitz agreed that there was a “public safety issue involved.”
PUBLIC WEIGHS IN AGAIN
The hubbub over Plum Brook may have died down, but it is still very much extant.
Everyone west of town is, she wrote, forced to use Brick Hill Road to get to the Metro-North train station in Golden’s Bridge “instead of having the choice of two other routes,” wrote Diane Houslanger, a Granite Springs resident, in a letter to The Somers Record.
Drivers used to be able to take Route 138 to Route 100, then Plum Brook Road. Now everyone has to go through the center of town. Traffic will get worse once DeCicco’s and the new downtown housing development open, she wrote.
Brick Hill Road is, she wrote, already a “danger and nuisance.”
Houslanger said it’s “outrageous that a whole street can be closed, especially after a large church (St. Joseph’s) has relocated there, and never be repaired so that it can be accessed again.”
Resident Bill Keane also sympathizes with Brick Hill Road folks.
A resident of a cul-d-sac, Keane admitted he doesn’t face the same problems.
However, commercial and residential development on Route 6 are increasing traffic woes.
The bridge’s closure has, the Shenorock resident wrote, taken away “a real part of our lives.”
Keane’s daily trip to the train station takes about 30 percent longer now because of the seven traffic lights he has to deal with.
When he first moved to the hamlet, Keane said, there was “one, ONE, traffic light” and that was on Route 138.
‘Hundreds of us idle at the always-red traffic lights in the middle of town every day because Plum Brook Road has not been repaired,” Keane wrote, adding: “Do your commute math. For me it’s about a day a year.”
It’s not just drivers who are impacted, Keane said.
St. Joseph’s opened a new church on Plum Brook Road in 2013.
The road to the church was, Keane said, “left broken, even when the volunteer fire department and the pastor pleaded for it for safety’s sake.”
“Our shared loss is real, but for us drivers, the loss is our time, which is irreplaceable,” Keane wrote.