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DOT acts fast to replace P.S. 14 footbridge

With the end of summer vacation fast approaching, the collapse of the pedestrian bridge linking Country Club to Waterbury-LaSalle could make it difficult for children to get to and from school, leading local elected officials searching for a solution. 

Senator Jeff Klein and Assemblyman Michael Benedetto have reached out to the New York State Department of Transportation, pressing them for a temporary pedestrian bridge at the site as soon as possible.  Ask and you shall receive. 

On Wednesday, August 13 the state DOT announced that they have already begun taking steps to design and construct a temporary bridge span to restore service on the pedestrian bridge at Waterbury Avenue over the I-95, the Bruckner Expressway.

“With the start of school rapidly approaching, we understand the importance of acting quickly so the students and families that rely on the bridge can walk safely across,” NYS DOT regional director Douglas Currey said.

The bridge is close to P.S. 14, serves as a route for children traveling to and from school each day, and provides an important link for residents living in communities on both sides of the Bruckner Expressway.

Construction of the temporary bridge will begin shortly in an effort to restore service before the beginning of the school year. Design of the permanent replacement for the span has begun as well.

“The rapid reconstruction of this footbridge is crucial to ensuring safe passage across the Bruckner Expressway for P.S. 14 students and for the Waterbury community,” Klein said.

State DOT, last week through a spokesman, initially expressed some feelings of hesitation in constructing a temporary bridge, saying that they needed to weigh all options.  Their most recent decision has pleased many in the community. 

“I’m gratified that State DOT is moving rapidly to give us a temporary crossover so that the community will not be inconvenienced for long, especially students who will be using this foot bridge to get to school come September,” Benedetto said.

The collapse of the pedestrian bridge at that location occurred around 2 a.m. on Friday, August 8, near exit 7B of the Bruckner Expressway, I-95.

While the bridge was empty, a dump truck driver was spotted heading southbound when he slammed into the 10-foot wide pedestrian bridge, according to sources at the scene, who also state that the driver may have accidentally triggered the hydraulic switch to raise the back of the truck, leading up to the accident.  

The state DOT and the Office of Emergency Management were at the scene, and helped to remove the southbound portion of the bridge, which became a pile of rubble obstructing the roadway. 

No one was seriously injured in the accident. 

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