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Opinion: Build the Bridge

Written By Timothy Knight on 4/24/15 | 4/24/15


For two months the Schoharie County Board of Supervisors has heard public comments and concerns on the proposed rebuilding of the Shady Tree Lane Bridge in the Town of Cobleskill.

Currently, the old structure stands as a useless span of rusted and unsafe metal from Barnerville Road to Shady Tree Lane, a visual reminder of the cost of government inaction almost seven years after the bridge was closed.

Some residents and supervisors are opposed to the new bridge because it would require the county to use the unpopular process of eminent domain, while others question the need to replace the structure altogether.

Supporters of the project have urged the county to move forward to reduce the time it takes emergency responders to reach Barnerville Road, which has been cut off before by train to both fire and ambulance squads.

Countless residents, many of whom are elderly, have personally testified to the dangers of not having this bridge in place, because minutes re-routing responders in an emergency situation could be the difference between life and death.

Not only that, but if the county does not move forward with the project it will cost local taxpayers approximately $400,000 in grants the county will be responsible to pay back. An additional tax burden we simply cannot afford.

Ultimately, when you look at the affected residents on either side of the creek, the only individuals opposed are those who will lose portions of their property. We sympathize with them, but there is a greater good to consider.

Take for instance the following example: say one of their elderly neighbors on Barnerville Road has a heart attack and a train is just then passing by, delaying emergency responders for five minutes and resulting in that neighbor's death.

A death that could be prevented by the construction of this new bridge. That is why, in this case, we favor the county's use of eminent domain and the immediate building of the Shady Tree Lane Bridge project to occur as soon as possible. 
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