BROCTON - A positive public hearing concerning Brocton's Peer-less Street Bridge has paved the way for engineering work to begin.
The required public hearing opened the Town of Portland monthly council meeting with a handful of Peerless Street residents in attendance, and allowed for the council to authorize an amendment to the Commercial Development Block Grant Program funds that will be used toward the project.
"We wish to re-appropriate our LDC loan money for the Peerless Street Bridge, which was red-flagged by the New York State Department of Transportation on August 25, 2011 and was closed by the town. This was a small city grant award project that we received funds for years ago, and we can re-appropriate the funds as long as it's being utilized within a low- to moderate-income community, which Brocton is," explained Town Supervisor Dan Schrantz.
A big emphasis to begin the project has been expressed, not only by council leaders, but by Peerless Street residents. Residents on Peerless Street currently have no direct or immediate outlet for traffic flow, without crossing the CSX railroad tracks at Central Avenue or Mathews Road.
"We've had no applications for the past six years for this funding, and currently there's $213,000 in the account to be used, which we'd like to put toward moving the bridge and running a road north up Lake Avenue to service the residents there, who have always had a bridge in that area," stated Schrantz.
Peerless resident Fran Lus reaffirmed his desire to see the project begin.
"It's definitely a safety hazard. Firefighters and emergency vehicles could be delayed getting to our homes, especially considering if the crossings at Central Avenue remain closed for any length of time. There wouldn't be much hope in an emergency if those tracks were blocked and the bridge was shut down. I encourage you as a board to re-allocate the money and expedite the building of the bridge and road," stated Lus.
Brocton's Fire Chief, Brian Pugh concurred.
"I completely agree. Everyone knows that nowadays in an emergency situation, it's seconds that make the difference between whether someone makes it or not. We're already starting out with a short window of time to work with in an emergency, especially with a fire or a heart attack victim. I'm definitely in favor of replacing it."
Pugh also relayed to the council members an earlier call out by a resident in the district who had a potential dryer fire in their home. After responding, and determining there was no risk of an actual working fire, responders were on their way back to the fire hall when they were forced to wait for blocked railroad tracks. The town supervisor also made note that tracks were tied up for over two hours on March 3.
Peerless Street resident Candice Penrod noted that on March 3, the fire department was unaware that crossings were blocked.
"I'm in favor of re-allocating, too. The department was not notified when the crossing was blocked. Last week's fire call turned out to be nothing, which was very fortunate. But if the department were to run into something major, they'd be going road to road if those tracks are closed."
Schrantz and the councilmen thanked the residents for attending and voicing their concerns and affirmed the council's decision to move to amend the CDBG program funding to utilize the $213,000 for the Peerless Street Bridge project under the new business portion of the board meeting.
With the motion affirmed by the council, engineering work can commence in order to begin preliminary design specifications related to moving and replacing the roadway and bridge.
Council members will meet next month on June 13 at 7 p.m. in the Portland Town Court chambers.