No date set for replacement of Swart Street Bridge

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By Joe Moskowitz
Margaretville residents who have been waiting for a new bridge to replace the flood-damaged Swart Street span will have to continue to wait a little while longer.
The village is doing its part. Work is underway to replace a water main that runs underneath the bridge. The old main leaked and often failed to provide adequate water pressure for some Swart Street residents. The new main, which is being installed by Dave Cowan Excavating, should solve that problem. Margaretville Mayor Diana Cope says the work is “moving along very nicely.” And, she says, she is very pleased that work on the bridge can begin very soon.
Once the new main is in place, Delaware County can take over and begin the process of replacing the bridge. It was declared unsafe for motor vehicles because of damage caused by Hurricane Irene.
For the past two years it has only been used for pedestrian traffic. However, with winter approaching. it is not going to get done this year and Delaware County Public Works Commissioner Wayne Reynolds says at this point he isn’t certain about next year either. He says it is tentatively scheduled for the 2014 construction season, but he says the county has yet to design a replacement.

Funding delay
Reynolds says it doesn’t make sense to even get started until the Federal Emergency Management Administration frees up the money. Reynolds, as with many who have been dealing with FEMA, says it has been frustrating trying to get money for this and other projects, but he says he is confident FEMA will grant its approval and allocate the funds to fix the bridge. But he has no idea when that will happen and until it does, there is no scheduled date to begin construction.
The bridge, which prior to the flood, was maintained by the Village of Margaretville became a Delaware County bridge because it is more than 20 feet long. Anything shorter is the responsibility of the town or village.
Despite the delays, Mayor Cope says she is happy that other flood related projects are progressing. She pointed out the work on the rear facades of the buildings along the Binnekill stream. In the days immediately after the flood, there was fear that many of those structures would have to be demolished or the owners would face prohibitive repair costs.
Cope says there has been a great deal of progress over the past two years and she added that flood repairs are to the point where a person who hadn’t seen Margaretville prior to the flood, might not know anything had ever happened.