Pedestrian bridge plans move ahead

By REBECCA WEBSTER

Recorder News Staff

The plans for the city of Amsterdam pedestrian bridge are moving forward.

On Monday, Amsterdam Mayor Ann Thane and U.S. Rep. Paul Tonko, D-Amsterdam, met in Albany with representatives from various firms and organizations involved in the project to discuss the timeline and where the process stands.

Thane said Tuesday that the group, which included Canal Corporation Director Brian Stratton, engineering representatives from the New York State Canal Corporation and Ammann-Whitney, representatives from both Saratoga Associates and Shannon-Rose Design, met together to hear some thoughts on the designs.

"It's many, many agencies who are involved in this," she said, adding that they meet periodically to touch base on the process.

Tonko said Tuesday that the agencies involved, which throughout the process have also included the state Department of Environmental Conservation, New York State Historic Preservation, the U.S. Coast Guard, and the Army Corp. of Engineers, have all been "helpful and proactive in the course of duty" as they design and move forward with the project.

The design firm Shannon-Rose had done independent work to be able to coordinate and bring in heritage-based material to the bridge's design, Thane said, and brought two of those concepts to the Monday meeting for preview by the city and congressman.

The two gave feedback on the design concepts, touching on the "threads that pull the community together," she said.

Tonko said one of the concepts aired spoke about a "wheel of life" design.

"(It was) one that really is captivated by the Wheel of Life carpet," Tonko said, referring to a carpet produced by Mohawk Carpets in 1938 for the Waldorf Astoria Hotel on Park Avenue in New York City.

He said the concepts speak to the mill-town roots and Native American foundation.

Thane said they also touched on the immigrants of the past and the influence of water.

"So much comes into play in telling the story of our region," she said.

The bridge, which was slated to begin this year, will be "substantially complete" by October 2015.

This year, the contracts will be set, the product will be finalized from substructure to superstructure to heritage expression, and the permits will be issued, Tonko said.

The bridge will likely double as an emergency vehicle access route, he acknowledged, but will also include signage and logos that are beginning to be rendered.

"It just brings another layer of interest to the destination."

Last week at the city's Common Council meeting, a resolution was brought before the council that, if passed, would have authorized the mayor to execute a pedestrian bridge maintenance agreement with the Canal Corporation.

The resolution was tabled, however.

"They wanted more information," Thane said of the council. "Hopefully, that's going to fly. The final design is becoming more concrete."

Coupled with the revitalization work and grants the city is working on, Thane said the bridge is "going to be important to the community in huge ways."

Tonko said the meetings have been "encouraging."

"They're moving along on their timeline and we're at that junction where they have people who have this expertise of translating the spirit of the community into the artistic renderings of the bridge," he said, referring to the bridge as a "park on the river."

"It's our bridge, and it's our heritage, and it's our expression. We want to make certain that the sentiments are taken to mind and heart."