City Island is calling on the federal government to stop an unwanted new bridge.
The City Island Chamber of Commerce is appealing to U.S. Senators Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand to intercede with the proposal for a bridge – to be built with heavy federal funding – to replace the current one.
In a Sept. 30 letter to the senators, the chamber cited potential cost savings on the $102 million replacement bridge if a more simple design – such as a causeway – were implemented.
With the project designed by city Department of Transportation a decade ago, the chamber said “the community has had little input in the design and has huge concerns that have yet to be addressed.”
“Our bridge is the only access on and off the island,” the letter stated. “The community wants a low-profile causeway bridge in keeping with the style and image of this nautical, historical community.”
The letter went onto state that the planned bridge’s 50 meter, 164-feet-tall, cable design is “enormous” and shows no regard for the community it will serve.
Schumer and Gillibrand were not immediately available to comment because of the federal government shutdown.
Construction has yet to begin on a temporary bridge while the permanent one is built. The DOT and construction company Tutor Perini have set a start date of Sept. 30.
Signing the Chamber’s letter, and making the case for a revised bridge design, was.
“We have a height restriction on the island of 35 feet, and that is as tall as we can build on the island,” said CICC vice-president Paul Klein, who penned the letter. “So why build something monstrous coming onto an island that you are trying to keep quaint and charming?”
The community continues to voice opposition to the DOT’s plan, most recently at a pre-construction meeting at P.S. 175 on City Island on Monday, Sept. 23.
Attached to the chamber letter were 30 questions raised at that meeting that the CICC said remain unanswered.
Many on the list deal with engineering issues focusing on the planned bridge’s “cable-stayed” design, as well as how construction will affect the local community.
One questions asks if Bridge Street, the first intersecting street as motorists enter City Island over the existing bridge, would remain open during the construction.
“The Chamber’s thinking is if you have to give us a new bridge, give us a new causeway bridge,” said Klein. “Whatever causes as little disruption as possible.”