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It could wind up being a bridge to nowhere.
The Town of Orchard Park is planning to replace the Forest Drive bridge in the Village of Orchard Park, which it is obligated to do.
But when Town Board members asked the Village Board to help pay for a new, higher bridge, the Village Board said no.
So Town Board members talked about building the new bridge, but just the bridge, leaving the version of a new bridge a couple feet higher than the pavement. Cars would be stuck on one side of the bridge, unable to span the different elevations.
But maybe it won't be a bridge too far.
"The bridge is being raised. There'll obviously be some road work necessary to make sure the bridge tapers into the existing roads," Town Councilman David Kaczor said. "We're responsible for the bridge; they're responsible for village roads."
But Town Engineer Wayne Bieler said the town will build the bridge to withstand a 100-year flood, and it will construct the necessary approaches.
There's been discussion for years about replacing the Forest Drive bridge, which is on at least one list of the worst bridges in New York State.
The structure has deteriorated, and Smokes Creek can be seen through holes in the deck. It also acts as a bottleneck for Smokes Creek during heavy rains, causing flooding downstream.
"The flooding, to me, was not the big issue," said Bill Burns of Forest Drive. "It's falling apart."
Burns has lived on Forest for 26 years. He said that about once every five years, water floods over the road, and there is flooding upstream because of the bottleneck at the bridge. But he's more concerned about the safety of the bridge.
"There's holes in it. You can see right through the bridge," he said.
The new bridge may be finished next year.
The Town Board earlier this month approved borrowing $1 million as part of $4.23 million in capital projects planned for the town.
"We are going with the new and improved bridge," Kaczor said. "We will meet our responsibility for the bridge."
Estimates for the cost are as high as $1.4 million, which includes drainage work. State and federal grants will reimburse about 90 percent of the cost of the bridge.
The mayor said the village did not want to be part of the discussion on what type of bridge would be built but has not ruled out contributing.
"I did not want to be part of the decision-making process," Mayor John Wilson said. "It's a town project."
He said he feels that village residents have already paid for the bridge through their town taxes.
Wilson said he identified $100,000 from three village reserve funds that could be used for the bridge project.
"We tried to be cooperative, we tried to help out. The town was unwilling to listen to what we have to say," he said.
Town Board members say it's the village that rejected helping out with the bridge.
"Certain members of the Village Board supported working with the town. Others didn't," Kaczor said.
Still, construction should start next summer on a new bridge, and it should help the flooding issues.
"I think the neighbors are delighted," Burns said.
That may mean the whole controversy is water under the bridge.

email: bobrien@buffnews.com