The three bridges that span the railroad in Whitehall will all be rebuilt this summer.
The three bridges, located on Clinton, Division and Saunders Streets, were submitted as shovel-ready projects by Washington County Department of Public Works commissioner Willie Grimmke earlier this year.
“The work on the bridges is planned to start this summer,” said Grimmke.
According to Grimmke, the trio of bridges need to be replaced for a number of reasons. One is a matter of safety, with the Clinton Street Bridge having had a weight limit set of 11 tons.
“The Clinton Street Bridge is in the least good shape of the three,” said Grimmke. “The mayor (Patricia Norton) was concerned about that bridge being done first, but we also heard concerns from the Champlain Coal Company and the Whitehall Marina.”
Grimmke added that in order for the Division and Saunders Street bridges to be rebuilt, the Clinton Street Bridge would need to be up to standard.
“The order in which we do the Saunders and Division bridges could change, but Clinton has to go first so it can be open and unrestricted in order to be used as a detour for the other bridges,” said Grimmke.
Another issue is the height of the bridges over the railroad tracks. The current bridges,
which were built in the 1930’s, were not built at a height that accommodates the Candian Pacific Railway to run double-stacked cars through the village. With the new bridges, the railroad would then be able to run double stacked loads, relieving stress on local roadways.
“This is good news for the village,” said new Mayor Francis “Fra” Putorti. “The village has been looking at this issue for a long time.”
The bridge replacement will be made possible by $4 million in economic stimulus funding from the federal government. Grimmke said that the project would go out to bid within the next six weeks.
“The contract time has not been set yet for completion,” said Grimmke. “But I would guess that it will take them into the 2010 construction season to complete the job.”