Toll dollars will pay to rebuild the Thruway bridge

The Enterprise — Elizabeth Floyd Mair 
Harold Gabree, at left, looks over a Thruway informational handout with John Gillivan, who lives in Colonie.

GUILDERLAND — Todd Gold, director of government relations for the New York State Thruway Authority, said at an informational meeting on March 12 that the cost of building a new bridge over the Thruway on East Old State Road will be paid by toll dollars.

He said that the project has not yet gone out to bid, and so he didn’t want to speculate on how much it would cost.

The current bridge was built in 1955, Gold said, and is deteriorating. Not built to current code, the bridge has a vertical clearance of 14 feet, 1 inch, while the standard now is 16 feet, 6 inches, he said.

“The goal of this project is to bring it up to current standards,” Gold said. A higher vertical clearance will make it safer for truckers, he said.

The new bridge will also have 6-foot-wide shoulders, he said, which will increase safety for pedestrians and bicyclists.

The bridge will have wider travel lanes, and the approaches on both sides will be rebuilt, according to Thruway officials. About 5,300 vehicles use the bridge each day.

Thruway officials were at the town hall in Guilderland for two hours Tuesday night to answer questions from the public, some of whom were concerned about the length of time the bridge will be closed, requiring detours.

Gold anticipates the work will begin in the spring of 2020 and take nine months. Because of safety concerns, the bridge has to be closed during construction, rather than building one lane at a time and keeping it open.

The bridge has been hit in the past, twice, Gold said. If the bridge were hit while constructing one lane at a time, any vehicle crossing the bridge would be jeopardized as well as all of the workers and the structure itself, he said.

“We want to remove the bridge and start fresh,” Gold said.

The bridge will look similar, but will not have side piers, and will be held up by two spans in the median, he said.


The Enterprise — Elizabeth Floyd Mair 
Todd Gold, director of government relations for the Thruway Authority, at left, stands before an easel displaying images of the deteriorated condition of the Thruway bridge on East Old State Road, near East Lydius Street in Guilderland. At right, a Thruway engineer, David Vosburgh, talks with Albany County Legislator Mark Grimm. 


Harold Gabree, who lives on East Lydius Street about a quarter-mile from the bridge, said that the project “is going to affect me a lot.” He anticipates having to drive a good distance out of his way — to Western Avenue and then up Route 155 — when he wants to go to the Colonie Price Chopper, where he does his grocery shopping, or to Walmart, or to Albany; it’s easy for him now to get to those locations by going over the bridge and traveling the short distance to the end of Old State Road and then onto Route 155.

Gabree said he understood the reason for the nine-month detour but thought that the increased gas needed to drive those extra miles regularly could be a hardship for senior citizens who are on fixed incomes.

Meanwhile, John Gillivan, a bicyclist who often uses the bridge, said that he is looking forward to using the new bridge, with its 6-foot-wide shoulders.

A decade-and-a-half ago, the town’s Pathways Committee, taking its cue from Guilderland’s comprehensive plan, had recommended wider shoulders on the Thruway bridge to accommodate walkers and cyclists. The Thruway had planned to rebuild the bridge then, when it was 50 years old.

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