Editorial: Fix the Ashford Ave. Bridge now
There's a bridge in Westchester County that needs fixing, and with an estimated price tag of $16 million to $20 million, it's not the Tappan Zee.
But for the time it's taken to get moving on the Ashford Avenue Bridge, one might think it were as complicated as the famous three-mile crossing to the north. After all, the county-owned span connecting Ardsley and Dobbs Ferry has had repeated safety inspections and been dubbed by some lawmakers the "worst bridge in Westchester County."
Funding woes, plus the fact that local, county, state and federal governments are all involved, haven't made the job any easier.
But Friday's incident that closed the New York State Thruway for hours after several cars were damaged by concrete that fell from the overpass is an urgent reminder that fixing this bridge must be a priority for County Executive Rob Astorino and the Board of Legislators.
Astorino declared that the bridge is safe for now but also said construction on a new bridge -- originally planned for 2015 -- must be fast-tracked.
He's right to act quickly. The falling-concrete incident was too close a call, and follows a similar incident a year ago. The county -- and some unsuspecting driver -- may not be so lucky next time.
Expediting work on the 62-year-old bridge isn't enough, either. County leaders must also shore up the structure in the meantime to ensure that falling concrete does not again mire one of the region's major thoroughfares -- or worse, injure or kill motorists.
The bridge passes over the New York State Thruway and Saw Mill River Parkway, is near the traffic-clogged Route 9A, and links the villages of Ardsley and Dobbs Ferry. While these factors may complicate repair logistics, the need to fix the bridge is well-documented; appeals for such work go back a decade or more.
Funding is an issue, but it always will be. This is precisely the type of basic infrastructure project that local government must handle. It can't wait any longer.