Swart Street bridge to be replaced in spring

By Brian Sweeney
The bridge spanning Swart Street in Margaretville bridge is scheduled for replacement next April, Mayor Bill Stanton confirmed this week.

The bridge has sustained damage from floods in 2004, 2006 and was again hard-hit by the historic August 28, 2011 flood. The latest flood blew a hole in the bridge just below the area that had been repaired on the southern end of the bridge.

After the latest flood, the bridge was initially set up for one-way traffic until additional damage developed and the entire structure was shut down.

Mayor Stanton told the News that the village authorized repairs to the bridge after the first two times it was damaged and was ultimately reimbursed for the work by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). After those floods, village officials were told that FEMA would not fund a bridge replacement, only repairs.

Following the most recent flood, FEMA agreed to fund a new bridge and authorized the village to obtain an engineering report for a replacement span.

The mayor said that hired Lamont Engineering to draw up plans for a new bridge. During this process, Lamont’s staff measured the bridge span at 21 feet. Policy is for the Delaware County Department of Public Works (DPW) to own and maintain any public bridges exceeding 20 feet. The DPW had previously measured the Swart Street structure at 19 feet, and said that ownership of the bridge was the village’s responsibility.

With the bridge length in question, Mayor Stanton said that DPW Commissioner Wayne Reynolds agreed to the structure measured by personnel from the NYS Department of Transportation. That measurement tallied 20 feet, 2 inches.

With two measurements exceeding 20 feet, Commissioner Reynolds agreed that the county would assume ownership of the bridge.

As a result of a backlog of work following last August’s flooding, the DPW has scheduled the bridge replacement for next April. The work is expected to take four-to-six weeks and will be funded by FEMA.

Mayor Stanton said that the Delaware County Soil and Water department is recommending that the bridge be widened from 15 feet to 30 feet during the construction process.
The mayor says he’s been frustrated by the slow process of getting the bridge open, but is pleased that the situation will be corrected by spring.

“I wanted the bridge opened by the summer,” Mayor Stanton commented. “We have met with some residents and explained the situation.”

He noted fire department personnel have tested the response time to a call on Swart Street and determined that the alternate route adds 1 minute, 45 seconds in response time. Not having the bridge open also creates snow removal difficulties.
“We need the bridge there,” the mayor concluded.