- Editor's note: Special thanks to Hastings' Jim Metzger for his graphic photos.
Earlier this year, a woman walking across the Ashford Avenue Bridge noticed a large piece of concrete that had fallen from the structure onto the grass below. She reported it to officials, said County Legislator MaryJane Shimsky. That was the first indication that something needed to change.
Though nobody was hurt, as many as six vehicles were damaged...and many locals were shaken up.
On Saturday morning, Shimsky rounded up a number of elected officials and their assistants to discuss the state of the bridge and to possibly expedite the process of reconstructing it.
"Walking across today, we saw visible cracks," Shimsky said. Though she does not believe motorists—either on or below the bridge are in imminent danger—she said that if "we wait too long it may be a different story."
The bridge, which connects Dobbs Ferry and Ardsley and runs above both the Saw Mill River Parkway and the New York State Thruway, has been recognized by engineers and officials as one of the worst bridges in Westchester.
The reconstruction is slated to begin in March, 2015. Funding will come from the county ($9.7 million), the federal government ($5-6 million) and from New York ($1.5 million).
Shimsky admitted that making the process happen more quickly will be dificult given all the approvals they'll need to go forward. There will also be obstacles to procurring the funding.
"Friday's incident was truly a wake-up call," she said. "Everyone involved seems gradually to be coming together to get behind the project—but I don't think gradual is good enough."
Though she does not believe there will be a catastrophic event anytime soon, Shimsky said "walking across the bridge and seeing the cracks is sobering."
She mentioned possibly installing nets to catch falling debris.
"We're hoping we can sit down soon and develop a timeline," Shimsky said. "This just can't wait."
If you want to help officials expedite the start date, send letters to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Read a statement from County Executive Robert Astorino below:
“Friday night’s temporary closing of the Ashford Avenue bridge vividly illustrates the need to expedite the comprehensive repair of this critical roadway. While the repair process has already begun, it is clear the timetable needs to be accelerated.
“I have directed county officials with the Department of Public Works and other agencies to immediately coordinate with state, town and village officials, as well as the Board of Legislators, on fast-tracking the repairs.
“Fortunately, no one was injured and engineers have verified the bridge is structurally sound. But it is a warning that that can’t be ignored the repair process needs to be accelerated. I want to thank all the county, town, village and state teams who responded last night. Because of their expertise and professionalism, we were able to reopen the bridge in a matter of hours while ensuring the public’s safety at all times.”