3/4/15: Erie, Cattaraugus Counties Join Forces Against Proposed NYSDOT Bridge Transfer

Modified: March 4, 2015 10:24am

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Date: 
3/4/15

Counties Object to NYS Plan to Transfer Ownership of 652-foot span over Cattaraugus Creek 

EC Legislature Considers Resolution Opposing Transfer; Cattaraugus Counterparts Concur

ERIE COUNTY, NY— The Erie County Department of Public Works, along with the Office of the County Executive, is joining their counterparts from Cattaraugus County to voice their objection to a plan by the New York State Department of Transportation (“NYSDOT”) to unilaterally transfer ownership of the former US Route 219 bridge over Cattaraugus Creek to Erie County and Cattaraugus County.  NYSDOT attempted a similar ownership transfer for the 652-foot span in 2011 but withdrew their proposal after Erie County strongly objected.

In November 2014, Erie County was notified by NYSDOT of a process being initiated that would replace the bridge and then transfer ownership of it to Erie and Cattaraugus counties. Both counties are objecting to taking ownership of this massive span, with Erie County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz and Commissioner of Public Works John Loffredo joining Cattaraugus County Administrator John Searles and Commissioner of Public Works Joseph Pillittere to oppose the action. In addition, the Cattaraugus County Legislature has introduced a resolution opposing the transfer, while the Erie County legislature is considering similar action.

“There are significant safety and financial requirements associated with ownership of this bridge, requirements that neither county is prepared to meet. This proposed transfer would impose unsustainable, multi-million dollar future repair costs on both counties and would force our counties to maintain a 652-foot long bridge that neither county has the experience or equipment to maintain,” said Erie County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz. “Past transfers of roads and other infrastructure in order to shed responsibility from other governments to Erie County have resulted in Erie County having more miles of roads to maintain than any other county in New York, along with 283 bridges already in our inventory. In effect, this action would create yet another state mandate on local governments and place an undue burden on both counties.”

Erie County has 1,177 center-lane miles of roads in its inventory, 1/3 more than second-place Onondaga County at 794 miles. The average length of the 283 bridges in Erie County’s inventory is 83 feet, far short of the 652 feet in the Cattaraugus Creek span. Cattaraugus County maintains 398 miles of roads along with 267 bridges and other infrastructure. Should NYSDOT’s transfer action be successful, the cost of maintaining the 652-foot long bridge would become the responsibility of Erie and Cattaraugus counties and would rise significantly over time, with eventual bridge replacement and other multi-million dollar maintenance costs expected into the foreseeable future.

The Deputy Erie County Executive has submitted a letter expressing opposition to the transfer to NYS Department of Transportation Commissioner Joan McDonald, while a similar letter from the Commissioner of Public Works was sent to NYSDOT Region 5 Director Darrell Kaminski. The Erie County legislature is also expected to approve a resolution opposing the transfer, which will then be transmitted to NYS and become part of a larger advocacy and education effort conducted by both counties to draw attention to the issue and strengthen opposition to the transfer.

 

For more information:

On the Erie County Department of Public Works, visit http://www2.erie.gov/dpw