No need to call the fair lady – Popham Bridge won't be falling down any time soon.
After ten years of delays with very little progress, Popham Bridge is finally getting its much-needed renovation. The Village had a public hearing on Monday night to unveil the project's specifications as well as take questions from residents and merchants who might be concerned about construction affecting their daily lives.
"In the long run, we hope this will be a project that we can all be proud of, a real benefit to the community," said Assistant Village Manager Steve Pappalardo, who explained that the opening phase of the project had already started.
Pappalardo, along with Projects Director Paul Zaicek and Stantec engineer Russ Tolmer, explicated the project through a PowerPoint presentation that included prospective diagrams, engineering plans, and a number of facts and figures.
Tolmer showed four main goals of the project:
- to replace the deteriorated Popham Road bridge
- to improve traffic operation and vehicular/pedestrian safety on Popham Road
- to provide new commuter access to the inbound Metro North Railroad platform
- to integrate village center aesthetics into the new bridge design
The bridge will be expanded from three lanes to five lanes, and a new dedicated turning lane to East Parkway will be provided.
New stairs will be added for pedestrian access to the train platform, and the platform will be expanded. Decorative improvements include new granite curbing and aesthetic lighting enhancements both on the curb and within traffic signals.
The project's total construction cost is set at $15 million, but the majority of that will be provided by the federal government. The Village of Scarsdale is only responsible for $540,000, or 3.5% of the total project.
The Popham Bridge construction project will be broken down into three key stages, each taking approximately six months to complete:
STAGE ONE – northern expansion, restricting pedestrian access on the northern side of the bridge and platform
STAGE TWO – southern expansion, restricting pedestrian access on the southern side of the bridge and platform
STAGE THREE – central area of bridge, traffic will be diverted to the newly constructed areas
Allowing three extra months for miscellaneous work, the project is expected to be complete by the end of 2011.
Pedestrian access will be restricted but never completely prohibited, and cars will be able to cross the bridge for the entirety of construction, although lanes may be closed at certain times.
"The bridge is going to be active, going to be open... there really is no option when it comes to shutting the bridge down," said Pappalardo. "15 to 16,000 cars go over that bridge every day."
Work will commence from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Monday through Friday, as well as occasional Saturdays and some overnights, contingent upon Metro North's availability.
Some merchants who work in the area expressed apprehension about how the project will affect their businesses. Concerns focused on how closing off sections of the bridge would affect pedestrian access to businesses, how construction work and workers would create a hassle to drivers and noise, and in what ways the work might limit parking in the area.
"They didn't really seem to care too much about our concerns," said Justin Chase, who runs All Antica pizzeria on 8 Depot Place.
"Everybody's struggling in this economy nowadays... we're just hoping this won't hurt us too much."
Chase requested a police presence in the area to help direct the flow of traffic and prevent double-parking, a big issue in a space where parking is limited. He also worries that contractors and workers might use some of his customers' parking spots for their own vehicles.
"It's gonna be a long process," said Pappalardo, who hopes to make things as smooth as possible for both construction workers and business owners. "But we'll continue to talk."