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FORESTBURGH, NY — Standing in front of an aging span across the Neversink River, Sullivan County leaders on September 14 kicked off a $10 million initiative to replace deteriorating bridges around the county.
“We have to gain ground on these bridges, in order to ensure the safety of everyone who drives, bicycles and walks over them,” remarked District 7 Legislator Joe Perrello, chair of the Legislature’s Public Works Committee. “Due to the prior recession and other pressing needs, we’ve been backlogged on important maintenance. We cannot wait any longer.”
“My colleagues and I on the legislature recognized the immediate necessity of this work, and we agreed to spend a great deal more on bridges than we have in the past,” legislature chairman Luis Alvarez said. “Our roads and bridges are being used more than ever, and we have an obligation to ensure their safety and integrity.”
“The legislature authorized bonding up to $10 million for this effort, and over the next month, we’re soliciting bids for virtually that entire amount. The safety of our commuters and visitors is paramount,” Nadia Rajsz, vice chair of the legislature, noted. “At the same time, we’re accomplishing this without hiking taxes for our property owners.”
Five bridge replacements will go out to bid within the next two months. Identified by the Division of Public Works (DPW) as needing the most immediate attention, the bridges are located in the townships of Forestburgh, Mamakating and Neversink.
“Thanks to a decades-old decision by the former board of supervisors to transfer most bridge repair and replacement duties from our 15 townships to the county, we have responsibility for 400 bridges spread across county and town roads,” deputy county manager Dan Depew explained. “Keeping up with that responsibility is extremely expensive, consuming great time and resources, and it’s a burden most other counties in New York State don’t have. Nevertheless, we plan to meet that obligation in the years ahead.”