GHENT — The Route 66 Bridge over the Kline Kill Creek was reopened with a ribbon-cutting ceremony Friday, five days before the Columbia County Fair and two weeks before the start of school.
The bridge was closed since June 28 as construction crews worked to make repairs to the span after its infrastructure had deteriorated over the life of the nearly 40-year-old structure.
The $1.4 million project, which was completed early and under budget, replaced the bridge deck and approach slabs, bearings and bridge rail. That includes repairing the bridge’s concrete substructure and steel beams.
The project was completed entirely with federal and state funds and no local funds, according to the project description on the state Department of Transportation website.
Standing on the bridge Friday, state Department of Transportation Commissioner Marie Therese Dominguez called it “beautiful and a real work of art.”
The bridge was expected to reopen the week before the 179th annual Columbia County Fair and contractors from Vector Construction Corp. of Utica delivered.
“We have a great project that we are actually standing on which is a brand new bridge in Columbia County,” Dominguez said. “Not only is it opening the doors here in Columbia County but it is paving the way to the fair.”
Commuters headed north to Chatham or south to Ghent using Route 66 had to add four miles to their route as the bridge was closed for repairs. Traffic was rerouted to County Route 9 and State Route 203 as part of the detour.
Both Town of Chatham and Ghent agreed to close the road to expedite repairs without bottlenecking traffic.
“I am very happy today,” Ghent Town Supervisor Michael Benvenuto said. “You tend to hear [complaints] from residents and I understand. We met initially and decided to close the bridge. It was a good decision. It [construction] got done early. We didn’t have to worry about school. It is open for the fair. I live on Route 66, just up the road and I can tell you how much traffic is going to come through here.”
The Columbia County Fair opens Aug. 28 and runs through Labor Day.
“We are pleased that this important project has been completed in time for the Columbia County Fair,” Department of Agriculture Commissioner Richard A. Ball said in a statement. “The bridge improvement will make it easier for visitors to get to the fair and enjoy all of the family fun and educational activities highlighting New York State’s agricultural traditions, including some new additions that we have been proud to support through the Agricultural Fairgrounds Infrastructure Improvement Program. We thank DOT and encourage Columbia County residents and visitors to experience all that the fair has to offer.”
Chatham Deputy Mayor Peter Minahan, Assemblywoman Didi Barrett, D-106, Columbia County Fair Manager Angelo Nero and other dignitaries were also in attendance for the ribbon-cutting.
To reach reporter Amanda Purcell, call 518-828-1616 ext. 2500, or send an email to email@example.com, or tweet to @amandajpurcell.