Spencerport Route 259 RR bridge history characterized by small-step achievements

By on November 12, 2018
The current removal project began with clearing the brush (above) and removing dirt from the back side on the abutment (below).

The current removal project began with clearing the brush (above) and removing dirt from the back side on the abutment (below).

A project that has been in the works for years is finally coming to fruition. According to a CSX spokesperson, “CSX is removing the abutments on South Union Street at the request of the Village of Spencerport. We have coordinated efforts with both the Village of Spencerport and the New York Department of Transportation for permitting and traffic control during the demolition. The project is scheduled to be completed in late November.”

The late Spencerport Mayor Joyce Lobene dedicated hours of often frustrating work to move along two significant projects in Spencerport village – bringing a food store back to the village plaza, a successful endeavor, and lobbying for the removal of the deteriorating and abandoned railroad bridge over Route 259 in the village. During her years in office (2009-2014), she was successful in getting Senator Charles Schumer and the NYS elected officials to help her push for removal of the railroad overpass at the edge of the Spencerport business district. It took years to get it done. Mayor Lobene died in 2014 about a year after the bridge was gone.

The 2018 improvement work on the railway site could be tagged as beginning in the late 1980s with first the removal of CSX railroad rails and ties, followed by actual bridge removal – but none of it happened overnight. Those step-by-step accomplishments have today allowed the scene to be opened up even more by the removal of the east and west abutments that raised the rail bed to reach over the thoroughfare.

The bridge removal project suffered delay after delay, and as actual work got closer in 2012, the contractor working for CSX requested another engineer’s report before beginning the work of cutting the bridge up and carting it away. Permits for the project were filed in February of that year but it would be a year and some months later, April 2013, when the project would actually begin and onlookers were drawn to the roadsides to watch.

Around the same time, shorter spans of railroad overpass bridges in the Town of Ogden on Manitou Road and Washington Street were removed. Town crews worked on the Washington Street span and graded the slopes. A contractor worked on the Manitou Road bridge removal.

As for traffic, Spencerport travelers know the route routine of using loops to get into the village and get where they need to go when roads are blocked. Detour routes were defined and posted. It was planned that any delivery trucks that usually used Route 259 would enter the village via Trimmer Road and the DPW Road which turns into West Avenue. Larger trucks were limited in access to the village due to Erie Canal lift bridge weight restrictions and the ongoing railroad bridge work. Since the bridge removal, village crews have maintained the two remaining abutments.

Lobene was not only diplomatic in her dealings with railroad officials but she also was a good communicator with her constituents, frequently writing the newspaper explaining progress and delays and using email to reach out to community members, chamber members and town officials. In a 2013 Westside News Inc. article by contributing writer Kristina Gabalski, Mayor Lobene was quoted: “It will be worth it when it (the bridge) is down, both for safety reasons and aesthetics.”

With the 2018 project, the site offers a whole new perspective from both the entrance to the heart of the village from the South, as well from the North.

Compiled by Evelyn Dow from previously printed articles available in the Archives section.

Photos by Karen Fien

The current removal project began with clearing the brush (above) and removing dirt from the back side on the abutment (below).

The current removal project began with clearing the brush (above) and removing dirt from the back side on the abutment (below).

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On Tuesday, November 6, the crew used excavating equipment to break apart the abutment on the west side of Route 259.

On Tuesday, November 6, the crew used excavating equipment to break apart the abutment on the west side of Route 259.

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A water and hose operation was used to keep down dust at the site throughout the process.

A water and hose operation was used to keep down dust at the site throughout the process.

With the rubble cleared away and the site graded, there is a much different view into the village.

With the rubble cleared away and the site graded, there is a much different view into the village.

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