Project Will Restore Key Crossing Over Genesee River in the Town of Belfast
It has been two weeks since Allegany County closed the Route 26 river crossing due to structural concerns. The bridge is heavily used by agriculture, daily commuters, and serves as the only efficient emergency route for many county residents. As county officials expressed fears about funding, construction timelines, and the lack of a detour, Governor Kathy Hochul said that New York State is ready to help:
“Governor Kathy Hochul today announced $8.6 million in funding for an expedited project to replace the bridge carrying County Road 26 over the Genesee River in the Town of Belfast, Allegany County. The project, which will be undertaken by Allegany County with oversight from the State Department of Transportation, will restore a key crossing that provides access for area homes and business; and is commonly used by school buses and emergency services. The bridge, the only crossing within nearly a dozen miles, was closed to traffic on February 4 following an inspection.
“We are committed to restoring New York’s infrastructure and are ready to assist our local communities in taking on important projects like this one,” Governor Hochul said. “The County Road 26 Bridge is a vital piece of infrastructure for residents and businesses in and around the Town of Belfast, and we want to get it operational as quickly as possible.”
The bridge was closed following a recent, routine, safety inspection by the New York State Department of Transportation, which has one of the most rigorous bridge inspection programs in the nation. The state requires all highway bridges to be inspected at least every two years and is one of the few states in the nation that requires bridge inspection teams to be headed by licensed professional engineers who have undergone specific training. In New York State, bridge inspectors assess all bridge components and are required to evaluate, score and document the condition of structural elements as well as the general components common to all bridges.
The $8.6 million project is being funded by the State Department of Transportation through a combination of federal, state and local funding. Design work on the repair project will soon commence and a work schedule will be established based on the design parameters. NYSDOT will work with the County to help them accelerate design and construction. Motorists should continue to follow the posted detour.
Department of Transportation Commissioner Marie Therese Dominguez said, “Governor Hochul recognizes the importance of transportation infrastructure to the health and well-being of our communities. The funding announced today will help expedite the reopening of an important travel link for motorists in Allegany County, enhancing safety for the local community and facilitating the flow of people and commerce throughout the region.”
Senator Chuck Schumer said, “In Allegany County, and in rural areas across Upstate New York, crumbling bridges and roads have long impeded economic development. Now thanks to the over $378 million I secured for bridges in New York in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Investment & Jobs law for 2022 places like the Town of Belfast will finally have this backlog of repairs addressed, all while creating countless good-paying construction jobs and making roads safer for everyone. We must address our aging infrastructure before poor conditions prove a bridge too far and I am proud to have secured the funding for these major upgrades to ensure the safety of our commuters and drive the Allegany County economy forward.”
Senator Kirsten Gillibrand said, “Bridges and roadways are vital pieces of infrastructure that can pose a serious risk to our communities if not regularly inspected. That’s why I fought to include nearly $2 billion for bridge replacement and repairs for New York State in the bipartisan infrastructure package. This $8.6 million investment will help the Town of Belfast in its efforts to sustain this highly trafficked bridge over the Genesee River and keep Allegany County safe.”
State Senator George Borrello said, “Allegany County residents who depend on the County Road 26 bridge can breathe a bit easier today with the news that the state has targeted the bridge for $8.6 million in funding and an expedited repair. The safety and accessibility of our roads and bridges is a quality of life issue we all tend to take for granted until a problem emerges, as happened here. My thanks go out to Governor Hochul and the Department of Transportation for their swift, decisive response as well as all the partners who worked with us to help the community. The county and taxpayers have been spared from the financial burden of the project and the accelerated timeline means the bridge will be restored sooner than expected. This is truly a victory for everyone.”
Assemblymember Joseph Giglio said, “It is gratifying that this funding has been announced, especially after the bridge was red-flagged last summer and closed to traffic earlier this month. The repair and rehabilitation of this critical infrastructure is essential for the safety of the community because of its heavy use by first responders. It is also a primary route for school buses, so these repairs will reduce time spent on buses by our children during long detours. I commend Governor Hochul and DOT Commissioner Dominguez for their responsiveness to our request to expedite this project for the safety of the people of Allegany County.”
Chairman of the Allegany County Board of Legislators Philip Stockin said, “Governor Hochul’s announcement of 8.6 million dollars for the replacement of the County Road 26 Bridge over the Genesee River in Belfast will be celebrated news to Allegany County. With only three other open bridges crossing the Genesee River north of Interstate 86, the sudden closure of the County Road 26 Bridge greatly impacted the routing of police, fire and emergency services, significantly altered school transportation plans, and created a substantial detour for commuter and business traffic. Allegany County is thankful for all those, including our federal and state representatives and the DOT, who have stressed the importance of this bridge to our communities, and we extend our sincere appreciation to the Governor for responding with immediacy to this critical issue.”