Plattsburgh residents want pedestrian bridge reopened

PLATTSBURGH, N.Y. (WCAX) The community of Plattsburgh wants to see the Webb Island Footbridge open. So does the City Council and the school district.

There has been a lot of back and forth on what to do with the footbridge since it closed in November 2017. They have the money for repairs, but will it open? Our Kelly O'Brien asked.

"I want it open," said Barbara Thomas of Plattsburgh.

It's a sentiment felt throughout the Plattsburgh community. People want the gates that currently block the Webb Island Footbridge opened.

"Personally, I think both sides just really want to get this resolved and get it over and get the bridge open," said Peter Ensel, a Ward 4 councilor.

The bridge is used by the community for recreation.

"I often go for walks and I used to walk over it and I would ride my bike over it, so I like it. I like the view from it," Thomas said.

About 40 high schoolers would cross the bridge to get to school. For some students, the closure has added about an extra mile to their commute.

"I understand how kids would want to use it to make a shortcut to school because it's a long way," Thomas said.

The school district has worked with Clinton County Public Transit to help bus the kids to school.

But repairing the bridge is still controversial.

The City Council voted unanimously last week to make the repairs but wants to hire someone to evaluate once the work is done to make sure the bridge will last.

"That we're not in two or three years talking about an additional million or half a million dollars in repairs," Ensel explained.

Meanwhile, it looks likes the money is coming through. The bridge will cost half a million dollars. The state will pay $450,000 of that. The county and city will chip in the rest. But time is of the essence.

"Get this resolved soon before the money disappears from Albany," Ensel said, "which sometimes has a way of doing that if you don't act in a timely fashion."

The Plattsburgh School District is holding a meeting at 7:30 p.m. March 19 to discuss the bridge.

If the school board signs off on the plan to hire an engineer to test the bridge's integrity, then it heads back to the City Council for a final vote.