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Hilltowns Archives The Altamont Enterprise, July 24, 2008
By Tyler Schuling
BERNE This week, the Albany County Department of Public Works closed Gifford Hollow Road to replace a bridge over the Switzkill.
“It’s not urgent,” said Bill Anslow, Albany County’s civil engineer and the project manager. “It’s not going to fall down, but it’s been deteriorating over time. We’ve been keeping an eye on it.”
The replacement project is estimated to cost $682,439, funded largely by the federal government.
“This is a federal aid project, where 80 percent of the money is being paid by the federal government,” said Anslow. The state will be paying 15 percent, and the county is paying 5 percent, he said.
“It’ll be a complete replacement,” said Anslow, “and it’ll be constructed of a new pre-stressed concrete box beam structure. They’re built off-site and then they’re trucked to the site and placed on the abutments.”
Anslow said, “It’s a quicker process because you can cast them while the bridge is being demolished and the new abutments are being built.”
The abutments, he said, are going to take time because they are going to be driven into the streambed below.
The county anticipates the project will take about four months. A detour is being provided and maintained, and the county is cautioning motorists to drive slowly and safely through those roads in the detour and to pay attention to traffic signs.
Originally built in 1962, the Gifford Hollow bridge is located on a Berne town road and is one of 77 bridges maintained by the county’s department of public works.
“The county of Albany has a very active bridge replacement plan,” said Anslow. “The five-year plan is updated every year and we track these bridges religiously. We are way ahead of the state averages. Most of our bridges are not on the deficient list,” he said.
Of the 77 bridges the county maintains and is responsible for in part or entirely only a few are on the list, and they are scheduled to be replaced within the next five years, Anslow said.
The Gifford Hollow bridge had been on the county’s list for the past five years.
The number of bridges replaced by the county varies from year to year.
“Some years, we’re doing maybe three,” said Anslow. “Other years, we’re doing one…It seems to alternate. One year, we’re doing more bridgework than highway work. This year, we seem to be doing more highway work than bridgework. We’re just replacing the one structure this year, but we have other ones that are currently under design, like I said, on our plan.”
Anyone with questions or comments about the highway restrictions may call the Albany County Department of Public Works at 765-2055.