CHAPPAQUA, N.Y. In one of her final acts as New Castle Town Supervisor, Barbara Gerrard was happy to present Chappaqua with a holiday gift on Thursday, with the official grand opening of the re-designed Route 120 bridge.
We know this has been challenging, especially the three years of construction, said Gerrard. Most of the people have borne with it with grace and appreciation for recognition of what the DOT and what New Castle is trying to do: to create a structure that would last hopefully more than a lifetime. Im thinking more like several lifetimes.
Gerrard was joined at the ceremony by Senator Suzi Oppenheimer, Congress member Nita Lowey, New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT) Commissioner Joan McDonald, President of the Construction Industry Council Ross Pepe, and Assembly member Robert Castelli.
This is one incredibly beautiful bridge. I was thinking thank God it was designed before the economy collapsed," said Oppenheimer. The final cost of the bridge is $20.2 million, 80 percent of which was paid for with federal funds.
Despite the state of the economy, Lowey hopes that federal governments will continue to fund similar projects in communities throughout the nation.
We know that the unemployment rate in construction trades in Westchester County hovers around 40 percent. This is unacceptable. These are real people who need real jobs on real projects, said Lowey. These are not make-work jobs. It is dangerous when we do not re-build our infrastructure.
Gerrard joined the New Castle Town Board as a councilwoman in 2000, and has been working closely with the NYSDOT ever since. According to Gerrard, the town initially sent bridge plans to NYSDOT 11 years ago with numerous changes being made before construction began.
We are literally bridging the past and the future with this project, said McDonald, comparing the new design the orignal bridge built in 1930 . The design matches and visually compliments the historic architecture that makes Chappaqua such a unique place to live and to work.
Despite the ceremony, there is still work to be done, including landscaping that cannot be completed until the spring. Conti Construction will also return in the spring to install new Belgian block crosswalks on the bridge.
The outcome is spectacular, said Bill Gordon, NYSDOT acting regional director for Hudson Valley. We wont be back for many, many years.
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