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Opinion

Don't wait three years to rebuild Ashford bridge in Westchester

Inspectors are continuing to work on the Ashford

Inspectors are continuing to work on the Ashford Avenue Bridge.

One of Westchester County’s worst bridges isn’t likely to lose that dubious honor anytime soon.

Despite calls for expedited rehabilitation of the crumbling Ashford Avenue Bridge — which crosses over the New York State Thruway and Saw Mill River Parkway — it doesn’t sound like it’s going to be fast-tracked very much before its 2015 start date for construction.

County Executive Rob Astorino last week announced that the bridge connecting Dobbs Ferry and Ardsley was safe and that county and state engineers would increase inspections while they address more immediate work on piers and planking.

Leaders will also increase frequency of inspections, meet monthly for updates, and seek expedited planning and funding reviews wherever possible, according to his office.

Other than those measures, it doesn’t sound like this $23 million (and growing) project is moving as fast as it needs to. And that’s not very reassuring for anyone crossing over or under the relatively short span. Especially since pieces of concrete have come down on separate occasions; the most recent event shut down the New York State Thruway for hours on a Friday evening in June after six cars were damaged.

“If we ever had a wake-up call, that was it,” Legis. MaryJane Shimsky, a Democrat from Hastings-on-Hudson, said today. “We’re in a very serious situation.”

Shimsky is right in calling this an emergency, since public safety may be jeopardized.

Leaders at different levels of government must recognize this.

To date, there have been inconveniences, but in the future some unsuspecting driver might not be so lucky.

With local, county, state and federal agencies involved and a hefty price tag, getting this project expedited is not easy. But after years of planning and more recently, falling concrete, it sure does seem like the type of infrastructure project that moves to the top of any priority list.

Pictured above: The underside of the Ashford Avenue Bridge connecting Dobbs Ferry and Ardsley is boarded up to prevent more falling concrete.
 

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