A previous version of this article stated that the Town of Dryden is "planning on donating $250,000 to $300,000 from the annual budget" to the bridge project. The town will not be making such an allocation. The town did make a one-time allocation of $200,000 as a local-match backstop, which was a requirement for one of the grants it received. The town plans to fund that local match with money from other grants. The Courier regrets the error.
The Town of Dryden is moving forward with its project to construct a pedestrian-bicycle bridge over State Route 13 that would connect two portions of the Dryden Rail Trail and provide a safe alternative for trail goers to cross the highway.
Members of the Dryden Rail Trail Taskforce and the Town Council held a public open house at the Neptune Hose Co. #1 fire station on June 30 to present the details of the project to interested members of the community while also answering any questions they may have.
The bridge will be a 110-foot single span steel structure built on new concrete abutment with concrete wingwalls, featuring shallow foundations. Along the bridge will be a 10-foot wide stone dust trail running from Monkey Run Road to Hallwoods Road, which will be constructed on a former rail bed corridor not adjacent to the highway as well as carried over Route 13 via the bridge.
Director of Planning Ray Burger said he received comments from residents in favor and against the project at the open house this past Wednesday. He said the majority of those who disagree say so because they believe it is not fair to take pieces of private property and diminish the level of privacy for the owners. (The town needs to obtain two easements for two small pieces of land – 0.71 acres of a private property and 0.16 acres of a commercial property – and recently decided to contract with the New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT) to have them manage the land acquisition process.)
“We evaluated 13 different alternatives as far as how to do this, and this was picked in part because … by the time [the trail] gets down to here, it’s about a five-foot high trail,” Burger said. “They’ll be pretty well screened by the existing vegetation, and we’re as far away as we can pull the trail.”
Burger also said there should not be any issues securing the 0.16 acres of the land on the commercial property since “it’s not critical to [the owner’s] use there.”
The rail trail task force did examine other options aside from placing a bridge over Route 13, though the bridge proved to be the superior choice by the end. A tunnel was looked at, but was ultimately casted aside because of its higher cost. Two above-ground detours were also considered – one travel up to the intersection near the NYSEG building and the other going over Fall Creek Bridge. Burger said the former presented multiple challenges.
“Going up there was a large detour to make and also the intersection is already looked on as confusing,” he said. “So adding more pedestrian and bicycle [crossings] would just make it even more difficult, and it’s already considered kind of a hazardous intersection.”
With the latter, he said the consensus was that it would not entice people to not cross Route 13.
“Going down the Fall Creek bridge was again looked at, but the distance – a 0.6-mile detour – was deemed as people still want to take the shortcut,” he said. “That’s just human nature, too. You don’t want to add points of miles to your trip.”
The bridge will be constructed beforehand and then dropped into its location; it’s unclear at this point how this would impact traffic.
The entire project is expected to cost $2.9 million. The town has already raised $2 million of that total through grants and is looking to apply for more grant funding in the future, according to Burger. In terms of scheduling, the completion of a detailed design of the bridge is set for June 2022. Construction would begin the following month that year and finish in July 2023.