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Posted on April 1, 2019 at 8:31 AM by PattiAnn Schultz
As sure as spring arrived on March 21st, Webster residents knew that April 1st was right around the corner, and the Outlet Swing Bridge was going to open for the season. With that in mind, we also knew that the Webster Herald would have a Letter to the Editor on the topic and social media would have opinions on it as well.
First off, the majority of Webster residents do want some type of solution to replace the bridge at the outlet, which has been a subject of many studies. It was removed in the mid-eighties with a promise to replace it under former Gov. Cuomo. I was quoted in a recent Letter to the Editor that I attended an October 2018 meeting and said the "Town of Webster did not want a 24/7 bridge.” I misspoke in that I meant to say that residents that live in that Lake Road corridor of Webster do not want a bridge there. I have spoken to these residents many times and they have called my office to vehemently ask that I not support a bridge there again, which could bring up to 8,000 cars a day on Lake Road. Their opinions do matter as part of this discussion, as they are the residents who are directly impacted by any changes to the bridge. We have not yet conducted a town-wide vote or survey, for reasons I will explain below.
Everyone wants to talk about the need but that's not the big question here. The big question is where are the millions of dollars coming from to fund any of the bridge options? There are four options being studied and they range in cost from $28 million to $47 million, not including annual maintenance costs. We have to consider how that would affect local taxes and who is going to manage the operation and maintenance going forward, since Monroe County government said it didn't want responsibility for it?
I have spoken to our Assemblymen and Senate representative and they told me there was absolutely no money in this year’s state budget to fund even the minimum $28 million dollar bridge option. That cost continues to go up each day, as the price of goods and inflation continue to escalate. The Town of Webster cannot take out a bond for that amount because it is more than our annual budget of $25 million. Thus, the cost cannot be added to your tax bill via a bond. Being the realist that I am, it's all about the money, and I don't see the money coming forward here anytime soon. How many times have members of Congress held press conferences at the outlet promising us something, and nothing happens?
No one entity is holding up this project, and the Town Board is not opposed to finding a permanent bridge solution. The Town participated in the recent study completed last year and Town representatives attended every meeting. We will continue to work with the other agencies to look at all options, until such time as funding becomes available.
If and when funding is obtained for any of the options being considered, then that will be the time when we can hold public meetings, have a vote, or conduct resident surveys to assess which option residents want for this town, based on the funds available. To conduct a vote or survey now, when we do not know which of the options can even be funded, would be counterproductive. Until then, we will continue to explore funding options for all of the possible solutions presented in the study.
This simply comes down to money. It should be up to Albany or Washington D.C. to fund this outlet bridge as they promised to years ago. In the meantime, I would encourage residents to read the 2018 bridge study, which is available on the Town’s website via the link below. Look at the options presented and let me know which option you would like to see for Webster going forward. I would also encourage you to contact your state officials about funding for this project, as your voice matters.
The 2018 bridge study: http://ci.webster.ny.us/DocumentCe…/…/3223/2018_Bridge-Study
As always, if you have any questions about your town government, please feel free to contact me during regular business hours at (585) 872-7068; or email me anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org
Ronald W. Nesbitt