Rensselaer County opened the new bridge on County Route 4 (Van Hoesen Road), with county officials calling for federal officials to review the process for expediting approval of bridge repair and replacement over railroads.
The CR4 bridge is located near the historic Mesick Farm, which features a large herd of buffalo at the farm. The opening included residents, local farmers and elected officials, including County Executive Steve McLaughlin, members of the County Legislature and town officials.
“We are very happy to see the Buffalo Bridge reopened and back in business for the many motorists and residents who have come to rely on the bridge. This is an important part of the county road network in southern Rensselaer County and this is a good day,” said McLaughlin.
“I am really happy that the residents and business owners of Schodack will be able to once again use the bridge for business and to enjoy the beautiful scenery in that area”, said Legislator Scott Bendett- Averill Park.
“This is good news for our residents, our schools, our fire departments and businesses that rely on this bridge. We are definitely glad to see traffic moving again over the bridge and appreciate the attention needed to get this project completed,” said Legislator Charles Peter.
However, McLaughlin and officials voiced frustration with the length of time needed to get approval for the bridge project. Approval for the bridge project took nearly two years, after the bridge was closed in December 2019 due to a materials defect that caused a structural issue discovered on inspection.
McLaughlin renewed his call for federal officials to review the existing process for approval of bridge replacement and repair over railroad tracks. The county has usually encountered review and approval processes involving railroad bridges that take close to two years.
One solution, said McLaughlin, is to require owners of bridges over railroads to submit completed plans for replacement that can be reviewed and pre-approved. Such an approach would have meant the opening of the Buffalo Bridge months earlier.
“This project took several weeks of construction but nearly two years for review and approval. There needs to be a more efficient method of approving bridge projects over railroads that enable earlier openings,” said McLaughlin.
“This long-awaited bridge opening is great news, but it could have happened a lot sooner if we did not have to wait for approvals from the railroad operators. With all of this new attention from Washington on infrastructure, it would be helpful if the federal government would step in and streamline the approval processes, so that important projects like this don’t languish on the desks of bureaucrats”, said Vice Chair of Finance of the Legislature Bob Loveridge- East Schodack.