Dilapidated bridges in Depew pose safety concern

DEPEW, N.Y. (WIVB) — For decades, four bridges in Depew have been a contentious issue for the state of New York and rail companies and have led to nothing but a run around for local residents and drivers.

Frank Kolbmann, of Holland, drives the route regularly. A few years ago, a chunk of the bridge hit his truck.

“It’s about every one of these cars that drive by. I mean any one of them at any time can have something hit their car,” he said.

Carrying dead lines, the crumbling bridges cross a heavily traveled portion of Transit Road, where it narrows from fives lanes to four.

“It is a safety issue and I think it needs to be addressed,” said Angela Wozniak, R-Cheektowaga. “And it’s also a high traffic area. There’s a lot of traffic congestion and because those two issues exist, it has prevent businesses from wanting to invest in the area.”

But there’s been little to no progress for years.

“I was getting no answers, I was getting no response,” Kolbmann said. “I get the feeling that it was too ominous a project, too expensive a project and they kept passing the buck.”

That may change. After years of stalled plans, the state agreed to study their demolition.

“CSX is not under any obligation to address the bridge as far as safety concerns,” Wozniak said. “So if the community wants the bridge removed, the state would end up needing to pay for it.”

The study started this week. The rest remains in question.

“My contention is, when,” Kolbmann said. “I’ve heard so many times from politicans and companies that we’re going to get to it, we’re going to get to it, it’s on our books. When?”

Wozniak said the cost of demolishing one bridge is between $1 million and $2 million. That’s far less from the $50 million for tearing down all four bridges and widening the road. Because the project was so large and costly, it never got funded, Wozniak said.

There is no timeline for their removal, but Wozniak said there is money in the state budget for that purpose.

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