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Feb 28, 2014 12:14 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Sagaponack Village Offers $500,000 For Bridge Repair

Mar 1, 2014 9:06 AM

Sagaponack Village officials have offered to kick in as much as $500,000 for the repair of the tiny bridge on Bridge Lane if it means that Southampton Town would give up a federal-state grant, allowing the bridge’s old guardrails and pedestrian path to remain.

Members of the Sagaponack Village Board presented the Town Board with an inter-municipal agreement proposal on Thursday morning that, if approved, would essentially have the village pick up the tab for the repairs, in addition to the $500,000 that the town has already set aside in its own funding for the work. The village said it would also cover the costs of the new designs.

Village officials pledged to kick in the full $500,000 that the grant had represented, but noted that their engineers have informed them that if the grant is abandoned—freeing the project from state-mandated design guidelines and no longer requiring that they replace the existing guardrails—the work should cost substantially less than previously estimated.

“[The bridge] is a centerpiece of a historic landscape,” Sagaponack Mayor Donald Louchheim told the Town Board. “We feel quite passionately that the bridge should be ... repaired as it is.”

The mayor also said if the town is unable or unwilling to approve the agreement and retool the renovations, the village might consider annexing the portion of the bridge—about 35 feet of the 90-foot span—that is technically within Southampton Town and take over the full cost of the renovation work and future maintenance of the bridge itself. But the village officials noted that they think the suggested inter-municipal agreement, proposing that they split the costs of the pared down repairs, would be the simpler route.

The village has raised issue with two aspects of the project: the replacement of the existing guardrails—two iron pipes hung between concrete posts—with steel ones; and the elimination of a 43-inch-wide pedestrian walkway now separated from the traffic lanes by a small concrete curb, replacing it with a 36-inch-wide walkway only divided from the road by painted striping.

The bulk of the project’s nearly $1 million cost will go to bolstering the bulkheads protecting the footings of the causeway that leads to either side of the bridge, and to installing drainage gutters that capture rain runoff from the bridge and direct it away from the pond below. It is estimated to cost about $100,000 to replace the guardrails.

Southampton Town Highway Superintendent Alex Gregor has explained that the grant the town received through U.S. Representative Tim Bishop’s office requires that the roadway be brought up to current state codes.

On Friday, Mr. Gregor said he is not interested in the proposed agreement with the village, stating that he does not think the town should give up the $500,000 grant or redesign the project.

“If they want to try to annex it, that would be the town’s call, but I’m not interested in a joint IMA on the bridge with Sagaponack,” he said, noting that it took his department four years of planning and $70,000 to get the designs of the bridge approved for the grant. “Southampton Town isn’t for sale.”

Even if there was no grant, Mr. Gregor said he would not be comfortable renovating the bridge without also installing modern guardrails. He said the newer rails would provide more protection and better withstand a hit if struck by a vehicle. The concrete posts and steel rails, he added, would violently stop a car that hit them, not deflect it away from the water like the proposed steel guardrails would do.

The Sagaponack mayor countered by stating that the new designs would make the bridge less safe, not more so, because of the narrower and less delineated pedestrian area. He also noted that the village’s engineer, Drew Bennett, has said that if the grant money were not applied to the project, the state would not require that the road and guardrails be updated as part of the renovation.

Town Councilwoman Bridget Fleming said she supported the village’s position on the renovations, noting that pedestrian use of the bridge is just as important as the vehicular use.

“One of the most important things about this bridge is the inhabitation of it—people standing on the bridge, fishing on the bridge, crabbing on the bridge, walking with their families,” she said. “I don’t think we can install railings that substantially change the inhabitation of the bridge. It is an extremely important cultural asset.”

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Will Fleming get the Village to reimburse the Town for $70,000 in design costs?
By nellie (451), sag harbor on Mar 1, 14 10:51 AM
umm, Nellie, I think you need to google the phrase "sunk cost."
By GlassHouses (64), anywhere on Mar 2, 14 12:37 PM
Consuetudo pro lege servatur
By nellie (451), sag harbor on Mar 2, 14 10:43 PM
Alex refers to Sagaponack as the village, then the Town. Alex, it's a Village. Alex does not want to work with them, only to see & get his way? 4 years and $70k to make a less safe bridge? That's as priceless as Alex saying the Town is not for sale.
By G (342), Southampton on Mar 2, 14 5:08 PM
Alex please do not ruin it for The Hon Bridget,I see her crabbing on that bridge most evenings in the crab season
By Etians rd (543), Southampton on Mar 3, 14 5:55 PM
Give it a rest. Fix it "in kind" and leave it as is. We have already lost too much of our local scenery and way of life. Drive slowly. Enjoy the bridge.
By M. O'Connor (147), Southampton on Mar 6, 14 2:38 PM
OK, Lets declare the bridge a "Historic Structure" since it is one of the features and Landmarks of the old Bridgehampton Road Races course when the races were held on the street circuit through Sagaponack during the late 1940s and early 1950s. Much of this race circuit is very much as it was in the 1950s, with neither the corners or road lane widths having been "modernized." The bridge itself was, in fact, a critical feature of the course, contributing directly to a fatal crash which brought ...more
By Muscoot (7), Hampton Bays on Mar 10, 14 1:03 AM