Residents want bridge to stay in Town of Dickinson

By Jillian Marshall

September 26, 2013 Updated Sep 27, 2013 at 10:38 AM EDT

Town of Dickinson, NY (WBNG Binghamton) The only pedestrian bridge across Interstate 81 may be torn down. Dozens of residents at the Town of Dickinson spoke up to New York State Department of Transportation about it's importance.

On average 40 people walk or ride across the bridge a day. But having been built in 1968, it isn't up to current standards for DOT clearance at 17 feet, and doesn't meet the Americans with Disabilities Act standards.

Residents spoke up about their concerns, asked questions and gave suggestions for the pedestrian bridge on Thursday.

The DOT says some of the possibilities for the bridge include tearing it down, reconstructing it or moving it to a different area.

There was even talks of the possibility of adding sidewalks on to the Front Street bridge. If this were to happen, residents suggested having a fence separating the walkway from the main road.

Town of Dickinson's Public Works Commissioner, Joel Kie, pointed out, if that were to happen, the town would be responsible for maintenance of the sidewalk, including cleaning off snow.

Kie says not having the bridge could be a safety problem. He says if there was an emergency or evacuation and Front Street was closed, the only way the people in the area could get out would be the pedestrian bridge.

"If there was a fire down at the corner or anything, the only way that pedestrians or even traffic could get in and out of here would be over the foot bridge," Kie said.

Town of Dickinson Supervisor, Michael Marinaccio (R), believes the bridge will get more foot traffic with SUNY Broome adding on campus housing in 2014.

Neighbors said the bridge is a part of their community and a part of their lifestyle.

"I think it's important to have access to a bridge over I-81 from this area to say over to Otsiningo Park," said town of Dickinson resident John Schnabel.

"I'd like to see it rebuilt and I'd like to see it covered more. And the fencing closer together so the kids can't go over and throw things at the truckers," said town of Dickinson resident Mary Petrus.

A list was complied with questions, concerns and suggestions from the town of Dickinson Community for the DOT to record and keep.

The study is in very early stages. The DOT says it could take any where from one to two years to complete.

Their first step is to get as much input from the community, and will keep talking to municipalities and groups that use the bridge. The DOT will have another public meeting after they compile their information.

DOT will factor in all opinions and information into the study, including cost effectiveness.

To give your opinion, visit the DOT's survey website.