By Joyce M. Miles
Lockport Union-Sun & Journal
Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — The state Department of Transportation is weighing alternatives for the now-closed North Adam Street lift bridge over the Erie Canal.
DOT staff are in the process of firming up cost estimates for a variety of scenarios now — bridge rehabilitation, replacement, removal, conversion to a pedestrian walkway or doing nothing — and will present the scenarios in a public meeting after Thanksgiving, Buffalo regional office spokesman Susan Surdej said this week. The meeting has not been scheduled yet.
The bridge, which connects Market and Van Buren streets, has been closed since mid-2011. DOT said the bridge lifting mechanism was deteriorated to the point it was considered unsafe for both vehicle traffic and canal boat traffic beneath.
DOT invited state Canal Corporation officials and Mayor Michael Tucker to a meeting last month to brief them on the alternatives for the span.
According to Tucker, repair of the existing bridge, constructed in 1915, would cost more than building a new bridge. He said DOT shared estimates from 2005 indicating the repair/rehabilitation tab would exceed $9 million, while a new bridge would cost about $7.5 million. Simply removing the existing bridge, and putting nothing in its place, would cost about $250,000.
A fourth option explored by DOT is turning over the disrepaired bridge to the City of Lockport for use as a pedestrian walkway only. The city would assume bridge/walkway maintenance costs, a proposition to which Tucker said he told DOT, “no thanks.”
According to Surdej, DOT will not automatically embrace the least costly option for addressing the bridge; public input on questions of need and practicality will be taken into consideration.
However, the agency’s final decision will have to “be fit in” with regional needs and transportation funding, she said.
Also, because the bridge is historic, the state Historic Preservation Office will have some input in its fate, Surdej confirmed.