Group wants Broad Ave. Bridge preserved

Nearly 600 members of a Facebook group want to preserve the Broad Ave. Bridge / Sarah Bleau

A Facebook group dedicated to preserving the Broad Avenue Bridge recently addressed the Albany Dougherty Inner City Authority asking what they needed to do to stop it from being torn down.

"In Albany we often just tear down things that really might be better off being preserved," says Juby Phillips, one of nearly 600 members of the group. "There is some unique history about the bridge that might make it so it would be better to be just maintained as it is."

She says the bridge should be a symbol of revitalization in Albany.

City officials, however, say while the cost of saving the bridge -- which Asst. City Manager Wes Smith says is significantly deteriorated in the bridge's footing according to Department of Transportation studies -- is equal to the cost of tearing it down and rebuilding it, where the plans differ is in lifespan.

"The lifespan of a saved pedestrian bridge was estimated at 35 years while the lifespan of the new bridge is estimated at 100 years," says Smith.

The group says they want the city to preserve the bridge and turn it into a pedestrian bridge, catering to pedestrians, bikers and even local events. City officials say the fate of the bridge was decided on roughly two years ago, so are the group's efforts to save the old Broad Avenue Bridge too little too late?

"I don't think it's a matter of if it's too little too late I think it's a matter of what is a reasonable decision. I would love to see the bridge saved but it just doesn't make good sense," says Smith.

Phillips says the group hopes to still have their voices heard.

"I still think it's not too late to revisit the issue and just see what the facts are and where we should be going with it," she says.

The city says they have received suggestions from the group via email and hope to make a compromise.

"The new bridge will be vehicular but it will have added pedestrian access more than what's on the existing bridge, so it will be much more pedestrian friendly than what's there now," says Smith.

Smith says the bridge is expected to be torn down in early 2012 and construction to begin within the calendar year as well.

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