Phoenicia bridge repairs set; reopening targeted for July 4

By Jay Braman Jr.
The Bridge Street bridge in Phoenicia will finally be repaired, says Ulster County Executive Mike Hein.

The bridge was damaged by Tropical Storm Irene last summer, but its repair was put on the back burner by the county because it was unclear whether it even could be repaired.
In January the county hired the firm Peak Engineering to study the bridge. The results of that study should have been given to the county on February 1, but for reasons unknown the study was not submitted until March 30.

This led to many in the Phoenicia business community to fear that the county was dragging its feet in an effort to avoid the expense of fixing the span. With the 2012 tourist season fast approaching, Hein’s office began to receive complaint calls.

As of last Thursday, Peak Engineering’s Scott Davis said the report was taking so much extra time because it was a big job.

“The report is being written,” he said. “There is a lot of data to review though.”
The next day Hein said he was “extremely pleased” to announce that a preliminary assessment by Peak Engineering indicates that the damage caused to the Bridge Street bridge in Phoenicia by Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee is not irreparable as originally thought.  

“As such, the Ulster County bridge crew is expected to be able to provide the necessary repairs in order to reopen this vital link to the Hamlet of Phoenicia,” Hein said.

County Executive Hein continued, “I fully recognize the importance of this bridge to the business district and the citizens of Phoenicia.  Its reopening will be another important step toward the county’s overall recovery from Hurricane Irene.  Though there is an extensive amount of work to be done on the Bridge Street bridge, we look forward to celebrating its reopening by the July 4th weekend.”

The new was well received locally.
“The Town of Shandaken is ecstatic to hear this news.  This bridge is important to the Phoenicia economy,” said Shandaken Town Supervisor Robert Stanley.  “I would like to thank Ulster County Executive Hein for expediting this process and the Ulster County DPW for all of its hard work.  We look forward to a rejuvenated summer season.”

“I could not have heard better news,” said Dave Pillard, owner of the Tender Land Home in Phoenicia.

 “I am incredibly grateful to County Executive Hein for making this bridge project a priority.  Fixing this bridge is not just about convenience.  It is critical to the economy of our community and needed as a second means of egress in rainy weather, when other roads flood.”  
According to Hein, Hurricane Irene was the worst natural disaster in the county’s history, causing over $15 million in damages to county infrastructure.