AMSTERDAM - Almost a decade after it was approved, work has begun on the long-awaited pedestrian bridge spanning the Mohawk River.
The bridge, formally known as the Mohawk Valley Gateway Overlook, will link the north and south sides of the city for foot traffic and will give city residents easier access to Riverlink Park and downtown.
Shane Mahar, deputy communications director for the Thruway Authority and Canal Corporation, said the $16 million project, which was approved in 2005 as a part of the statewide Transportation Bond Act, began in the past few weeks.
Work on the Amsterdam pedestrian bridge continues Friday. The bridge work began a few weeks ago and is expected to be complete in 2016.
Photo by Kerry Minor/The Leader-Herald
"It was approved nine years ago; it's taken this long to get plans in place. A few weeks ago we finally started construction," Mahar said.
"It will link both sides of Amsterdam," Mahar said. "It's meant to be a tourist destination, or an element [for] the city residents to enjoy the heritage and the great things the city of Amsterdam has in a new way."
The current bridge design is expected to be based off Native American culture, in an S-shape with no harsh angles of more than 90 degrees.
Mahar said while the Canal Corp has been working with the city on the project, the Canal Corp will own the actual bridge structure itself. All major maintenance and necessary structural repairs will be undertaken by the Canal Corp.
"It's a pretty exciting project, and we're looking forward to seeing it complete," Mahar said.
Kubricky Construction Corporation of Wilton is overseeing the project, Mahar said.
District 6 County Legislator John Duchessi said he was a fan of the project and said he felt it would be a great part of the revitalization of downtown Amsterdam.
"I'm really excited to see the progress on the bridge," Duchessi said. "I look at this as a part of the overall revitalization."
Duchessi said he sees the project as a draw to people from outside the area, but feels that tourism is not the only reason the project should go forward.
"A nice park is just that, a nice park," Duchessi said, "The people of Amsterdam deserve that."
Amsterdam city councilwoman Diane Hatzenbuhler said that while she thinks the bridge will be beautiful, she feels the money could have gone to other projects that would have been able to be used by more people.
"When all is said and done, it's going to be pretty," Hatzenbuhler said. "Whether or not we get millions of people, we'll have to wait and see."
Mahar said work on the main bridge structure will begin next spring. He said the work currently being undertaken is prep work to get the site ready for construction.
Mahar said the project is expected to be completed in 2016.