AMSTERDAM - State, federal and local officials Tuesday celebrated the start of construction of a pedestrian bridge in the city.
"This is a monumental triumph for all involved," Mayor Ann Thane said. "It is a permanent tribute to the very individuals that conceived of this project and never wavered over the years."
Representatives including U.S. Rep. Paul Tonko, D-Amsterdam, New York State Canal Corp. Director Brian Stratton, Montgomery County Executive Matt Ossenfort and Thane looked at the work site and spoke to the press and public about the $16.5 million project.
U.S. Rep. Paul Tonko, D-Amsterdam, speaks during a news conference about the Mohawk Valley Gateway Overlook pedestrian bridge in Amsterdam on Tuesday.
The Leader-Herald/Bill Trojan
An artist’s rendering of the Mohawk Valley Gateway Overlook pedestrian bridge was on display at the news conference.
The Leader-Herald/Bill Trojan
Thane said ground has been broken, equipment has been moved in and crews are working on both sides of the river.
"This is so exciting for the city of Amsterdam. It's so exciting for the Mohawk Valley and certainly very exciting for New York state," Thane said.
The S-shaped bridge, formally known as the Mohawk Valley Gateway Overlook, will link the north and south sides of the city.
The bridge will connect Riverlink Park to the area around Gilliland Avenue and Bridge Street in the city.
The project was approved nine years ago. Work on it began in April.
The bridge is part of the Rebuild and Renew New York Transportation Bond Act.
Tonko said the effort goes back nearly two decades to when the plan was first conceived though a series of visioning sessions. He said those sessions showed a need to create economic opportunities along the waterfront and a better connection to the riverfront.
He said the bridge is more than just connecting north side to south side. He said it will be transformational to the city and serve as a welcome banner to the Erie Canal Heritage Corridor. He said it will also connect several different sites around the area, including parks and Guy Park Manor. The bridge will function as a destination for outdoor enthusiasts, he said.
Tonko said he envisions the bridge as a way to welcome people to the city and Mohawk Valley.
"This overlook will be that welcome banner," Tonko said. "It will also be a force of connection. It will connect a wonderful park in this south side neighborhood, a veterans memorial and Erie Canal Heritage will be connected to Riverlink."
The bridge is expected to be completed by the end of 2015, with final improvements to its appearance completed in 2016.
Construction on the bridge will create approximately 300 jobs, according to a news release from the governor's office.
In 2008, the Canal Corp. finalized a design for the 500-foot steel multigirder bridge. The 30- foot-wide concrete deck will serve as home to a "Park-Over-the River" concept, integrating the walkway with planters, landscape lighting, railings, benches and other public amenities, the news release said.
Concrete surfaced pedestrian trails, decorative retaining walls and plantings will be incorporated on both bridge approaches, creating a continuous park-like environment, the news release said.