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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
OXFORD, NEW YORK - According to studies by the Chenango County Dept. of Public Works, the Main Street Bridge in Oxford Village is seriously failing and something has to be done about it right away. (It was referred to as "deficient".) The first informational meeting about the disposition of the bridge, was held in the Oxford Fire Station on October 17th. According to Dave Kennicutt, the Project Manager for Delta Engineers, PC, under contract with Chenango County, it is fairly certain that construction of a new bridge will be necessary. He also stressed that the collaborative input from citizens and local leaders are important elements that will determine the final design decisions.
The Main Street Bridge project has many complicated issues aside from the actual structural design. The NYS DOT, DEC, and the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) are all involved and have to pass approval. There are: water and sewer lines; environmental and archaeological sensitivity studies; soil tests; other area DPW project scheduling; traffic detouring; historic districts; possible bank erosion issues; Federal standards; etc. "If it's part of the problem, we'll address it", stated Kennicutt.
The above issues are largely out of the public's hands, however, unanimous bridge ideas -where financially and structurally possible- will be incorporated into the design plans. The starting point for the bridge's look is to base it upon the area's architecture, being respective of its historic nature; it should be enhanced to blend into the setting.
The Delta design team of licensed professional engineers like Dave Kennicutt; along with Jim McDuffee, Director of Transportation Services; John VerPlanck, Assistant Engineer (who were present), and all who are working on the design of this project, will also attempt to incorporate elements that the public wants. Decorative lighting, decorative railings (as long as they meet Federal crash standards), and a boat top launch were proposed. Sherry Behe, Village Clerk/Treasurer, brought up the real need for guardrails to protect pedestrian traffic, primarily children, due to the close proximity of the school. Oxford Village Mayor, Terry Stark, and members of the Oxford Fire Department also voiced concerns about expenses due to emergency contingency plans.
On the subject of design elements, the famous Theodore Burr "Kingpost Arch" came up. Fred Lanfear, president of the Oxford Historical Society, brought in a model of a Burr bridge as well as books and pictures. Kennicutt explained that he had researched Burr and knew that he was historically important to Oxford. A covered, authentic Burr bridge would not be a reasonable request; however, certain design elements suggestive of the Burr designs would be a possibility if there was enough public demand. Randy Gibbon, Director of the Chenango County DPW, also suggested a permanent "storyboard" which could be erected by the bridge in honor of Burr.
All of these elements will determine the bridge's cost. John Pioch, from the State Dept. of Transportation, was there and he explained that 80% of the cost would come from Federal funds. NY State may pay up to 15%, but there's no guarantee. Historically the local share is about 5%. Dave Kennicutt said that based on conventional structures, a bridge of about this size will cost around $2.4 million.
Keeping the large expense in mind, and the fact that the bridge will last for approximately half a century, a lot is at stake. The final design should be something Oxford Village & Town, Chenango County and New York State will be proud of. Think about what you want the Main Street Bridge to look like.
The first phases of design work will involve compiling public comments, suggestions, concerns and ideas. Historic Burr design elements, safety guardrails, a walk-out area for observation/ceremonies, canoe/kayak launch, and decorative lighting are just some of the ideas that could be mentioned. At this time, comments can go directly to the DPW, Oxford Village Mayor and Oxford Town Supervisor. For your convenience, an email form has been set up on the Oxford website at http://www.OxfordNY.com/government . Get involved now, send in your thoughts; engineers would like to have comments back by October 27th, however, people can still make comments after that date. A future informational meeting will be held in Feb. or March of 2007.