HUDSON — Construction on the 113-year-old Ferry Street Bridge is on track to begin in 2020, but the city is waiting to sign a contract with Amtrak before the project can advance.
The 69-foot single-span, steel-pony truss bridge, which crosses over the CSX/Amtrak railroad tracks, was built in 1905. The bridge was closed to vehicular traffic in October 2014 after it was deemed unsafe.
The bridge was listed in very poor condition and received a “3” rating in the state Department of Transportation’s 2014 biennial bridge inspection report. The state DOT condition rating scale ranges from 1 to 7, with 7 being in new condition and a rating of five or greater considered good condition.
The process to design and build a new bridge began in 2015 after it was deemed to be city property, City Public Works Superintendent Rob Perry said Wednesday.
The project is federally aided, administered by the state DOT. But to receive funding, the project must be executed according to DOT’s prescribed timelines, Perry said.
“When you are talking about a bridge project, it is not uncommon, from beginning to end, for the project to take between 5 and 10 years,” Perry said. “It is just the nature of the beast, especially with a bridge that crosses railroad tracks — then the process is compounded significantly.”
Most recently, the project reviewed to see if the bridge was subject to historic designation. But the bridge was found ineligible for the National Register of Historic Places, Perry said. The review was completed March 5.
“If it was eligible, we would have to get a waiver to remove the old bridge,” Perry said. “The reason it was not eligible is that it is not original to Hudson. It was part of a bridge that connected Rensselaer to Albany that was built in 1866. That bridge was demolished and a portion was floated down on a barge and installed here in Hudson in the early 1900s.”
The original span was also modified significantly in 1915, 1934, 1955 and 1995, Perry said.
No design schematics are available because the design is in the preliminary stages, Perry said. The bridge will be designed by the Albany-based firm Creighton Manning.
About $3.5 million in local, state and federal funds have been secured to cover the total cost of the project, Perry said.
But more work has to be done.
“It took two years just to identify funding sources,” Perry said. “Dealing with the railroads alone will take a year.”
The proposed project will require ongoing coordination with CSX and Amtrak, according to a May 20, 2015 memo from Creighton Manning. CSX owns the bridge and the property and railroad tracks under the bridge. Amtrak has a lease for operation and maintenance responsibilities of the tracks and bridge, according to the memo.
The city has to agree on a contract with Amtrak so the company can review the design and determine the associated costs, Perry said.
“Amtrak has to review the design and the technical aspects of the site,” Perry said. “We have to have an agreement in place about what the design will look like with Amtrak, and they are being not responsive.”
Amtrak has had the contract for two months, but there has been no response, Perry said.
“The railroad is notoriously unresponsive and with an engineer and the funding in place, it’s the railroad that will continue to be our greatest obstacle,” Perry said.
Once Amtrak and CSX agree with the city on a plan for the project, the city can do survey work to determine if any part of the property is owned by another entity, Perry said.
“We have to make sure the city actually owns all of the property, and, if it doesn’t, we have to acquire the property or have it donated,” he said. “We don’t intend there being any issues. Then we can do a detailed design plan and then move on to construction.”
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