Officials still treading water over Margaretville Swart Street bridge repairs

By Joe Moskowitz
Margaretville residents, who have been waiting since 2011 to be able to drive over the Swart Street Bridge, will have to continue waiting and Delaware County, which owns the bridge, still doesn’t know how much longer that wait will be.
Bridge to Nowhere: When it comes to getting around Swart Street, you still have to drive around your elbow to get to your thumb. The bridge fix is still up in the air, almost three years later. Photo by Joe MoskowitzBridge to Nowhere: When it comes to getting around Swart Street, you still have to drive around your elbow to get to your thumb. The bridge fix is still up in the air, almost three years later. Photo by Joe Moskowitz
The bridge, a victim of Hurricane Irene, has only been open to foot traffic since the storm.
Margaretville Mayor Diana Cope, and Delaware County Department of Public Works (DPW) Commissioner Wayne Reynolds, thought that after a new water main, which used to run under the bridge had been installed, work to replace the span could begin. The water-main work was completed last fall.
It’s now spring 2014, the planning season for the DPW. Reynolds said the county can discuss some ideas on how to construct a new bridge, but can’t make any solid plans until the Project Worksheet (PW) is approved by the Federal Emergency Management Administra­tion (FEMA). Reynolds told the News that he has no idea when FEMA will act.
He said that with each week that passes, it becomes a little less likely that the bridge will be replaced this year.
“I had no idea it would take this long,” He said part of the problem is that “we confused FEMA.”
The bridge was technically considered a culvert. That meant it belonged to the village and it was the village that originally submitted the PW to FEMA. But the State Department of Transportation measured it and found it to be more than 20-feet long. That meant it was no long­er a culvert, but rather, a bridge. As a bridge, it became county property. The change in ownership, classification, and plans may sound confusing and apparently it has confused FEMA.
Reynolds said he will continue to try and get progress reports from FEMA, but much to the dismay of Reynolds and the Village of Margaretville, there isn’t a great deal of progress to report.