Vowing that “not one single bolt of the Carmine Liberta Bridge [in New Paltz] will be removed until an alternate bridge is up and running,” Ulster County Executive Mike Hein welcomed audience members last Wednesday to the kick-off meeting of the Bridge Replacement Technical Advisory Committee, convened to “maximize community input as this process moves forward.”
Members of the committee include village mayor Jason West; deputy town supervisor Jeff Logan; county legislators Ken Wishnick and Hector Rodriguez; along with community members Alan Stout, a founding member of the Bike/Pedestrian Committee; Gail Gallerie, chair of the joint Town/Village Transportation Implementation Committee; Rich Gottlieb, representing the Downtown Business Association; and Peter and Sandy Ferrante, whose farmland will be impacted by the project.
“I couldn’t fathom what this community would look like if the Carmine Liberta Bridge were shut down even for a short time,” Hein said, as he assured the committee that traffic will continue to flow unimpeded during the period between April and November of 2016 when the actual replacement project will occur. The county executive also stressed that he and members of the County Department of Public Works are determined to deliver the new bridge “on time and on budget.”
Dennis Doyle, director of the Ulster County Planning Department, expressed the hope that the committee would be able to achieve consensus on design recommendations by June or July of 2015.
Highway engineer Ed Pine, a 33-year veteran of the County Department of Public Works, explained that a second bridge will be constructed to the north of the current bridge, and it will provide two lanes for vehicles and will also support bicycle and pedestrian traffic. This second bridge could be removed once the Carmine Liberta Bridge replacement is complete, or it might remain in place to be used as a bicycle and pedestrian pathway, depending on the committee’s final recommendations. Plans call for the new structure to be built and placed in service before the winter of 2016. The project is estimated to cost between $1.7 and $2.5 million, to be funded by the county budget.
Mayor West said he was happy to see that aesthetic issues were on the list of the county’s concerns, saying that “a bridge without any struts obstructing the view to the Ridge would be a huge benefit to our community and to visitors.”
The committee will hold its next meeting on April 8, 1 p.m., at the New Paltz Community Center.