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U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg announces bridge investment in Castleton

 Congressman Paul Tonko, U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg  and Governor Kathy Hochul
Dave Lucas
Congressman Paul Tonko, U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and Governor Kathy Hochul

U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg visited the Capital Region today to announce that the New York State Thruway Authority’s project to restore the Castleton-on-Hudson Bridge will receive $21 million in federal funds.

Speaking in Schodack Island State Park along the Hudson River, Buttigieg said the bridge, now in poor overall condition, is key to the regional transportation network.

“17,000 people cross that bridge every day, and the project is set to save millions of dollars in travel costs as well as saving taxpayers even more in maintenance costs," Buttigieg said. "And it's about time. Because if you look at that bridge, it represents the very latest engineering and construction that was available in the late 1950s. But today, it takes near monthly repairs just to keep it in service.”

New York Governor Kathy Hochul, a fellow Democrat, says the bridge desperately needs a facelift.

"It's been getting old. And there's a lot of potholes and it's basically compromised," Hochul said. "And for our trucking industry and our commuters and people who use the bridge, it has become a real hassle. And when we start slowing down the economy, because the infrastructure has not made the roadways as smooth as they should be and as efficient as they should be, then we've got a problem that affects larger areas than just that one bridge."

The grant to the New York State Thruway Authority will go toward the restoration of the 63-year-old bridge on the Berkshire Spur of the New York Thruway, which connects I-87 in Albany County to the New York-Massachusetts state lines. Again, Buttigieg:

"If you actually Google the Castleton bridge," said Buttigieg, "You'll find a bunch of one star reviews from travelers expressing their frustration about what it takes to drive over it. So thankfully, this project is going to include a new eastbound bridge deck, a crash-tested railing for safety, better drainage, which is going to help prevent hydroplaning. And all of that is going to make the Castleton bridge dramatically safer for the people who count on it, and cut down on emergency repairs, which means fewer of those delays and detours and closures. And that's in addition to the construction project already underway to replace the westbound bridge deck. Together, these projects are set to extend the useful life of this bridge by another 50 years, meaning that our children and grandchildren will one day have a chance to take advantage of it too. And I would hope leave their own five-star Google reviews about their experience.”

Buttigieg’s visit is part of the Biden administration’s “Investing in America” tour. He says the funding is part of $300 million from the Bridge Investment Program going to eight states and Washington D.C.

“43,000 bridges nationwide are in poor condition, closures or worse have become more and more common, and the American people feel the impact," Buttigieg said. "When bridges have to close for repairs, or when they begin to fail, it cuts off sometimes an entire community, it adds time to commute, it costs money for businesses, as we were hearing about it, it can even delay ambulances and fire trucks from getting to where they need to be to respond to an emergency. It means truckers have to take longer routes, which means consumers have to pay more for deliveries. And working parents have to spend more money on gas and more time away from their kids. That's what this is really about. Bridges aren't just concrete, asphalt and steel. They are engines of economic growth, and they are vital connections for communities.”

Buttigieg and the project were welcomed by Congressman Paul Tonko of the 20th district.

"We are proud of this effort," Tonko said. "I wanted to make certain that we did have this holistic approach to infrastructure. And what's really important, the president appointed a team that is making certain that the accountability and the transparency of these programs and the investments are done as legislatively and executively intended. So it's good stewardship of these dollars. It creates jobs. It strengthens our national security and creates stronger deep hope for tomorrow, and enables us to have a razor sharp competitive edge in a very competitive, robust sweepstakes that is now occurring globally."

The grant is made possible by the Biden-Harris Administration’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, which will help repair or rebuild 10 of the most economically significant bridges in the country along with thousands of other bridges nationwide deemed critical to the movement of people and goods.

Dave Lucas is WAMC’s Capital Region Bureau Chief. Born and raised in Albany, he’s been involved in nearly every aspect of local radio since 1981. Before joining WAMC, Dave was a reporter and anchor at WGY in Schenectady. Prior to that he hosted talk shows on WYJB and WROW, including the 1999 series of overnight radio broadcasts tracking the JonBenet Ramsey murder case with a cast of callers and characters from all over the world via the internet. In 2012, Dave received a Communicator Award of Distinction for his WAMC news story "Fail: The NYS Flood Panel," which explores whether the damage from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee could have been prevented or at least curbed. Dave began his radio career as a “morning personality” at WABY in Albany.