RYE, N.Y. -- The city of Rye celebrated the re-opening of the Central Avenue bridge Friday, more than six years after it was destroyed in a flood.
The bridge near the intersection of Central Avenue and Boston Post Road had been closed since April 2007, when it was heavily damaged in a flood. Prior to that, it had been designated for replacement after being deemed deficient by the state Department of Transportation. After an attempt to get FEMA funds to pay for a replacement, the project was reassigned to the state DOT. Work on the new bridge began late last year, with the DOT paying for 80 percent of the $1.5 million project and Rye paying for 20 percent.
"I can't believe we're here," said Mayor Doug French. "It was a real challenge, and there were days when I thought the Tappan Zee Bridge would be funded, built and completed before our beloved little Central Avenue bridge. But here we are, and its a great achievement."
French thanked representatives from the DOT, the city council, Westchester County, City Manager Scott Pickup and the neighborhood residents for their patience. "It's been a long road, no pun intended, but here we are today."
"It's not really a bridge, it's a monument to volunteerism," said City Council member Richard Filippi. He said the work being done around Rye was due to the hard work of the volunteers in the city government. "We all moved to Rye for various reasons, we all fell in love with the place, but it exists as it does today not by magic, but by the dedication of generations of volunteers before us, and I want to thank them for making Rye so unique and so great."
State Sen. George Latimer said he was happy the bridge was finally open, because of its importance in connecting the western portion of Rye. However, he said that the process took too long.
"We need to have a much speedier regulatory process," he said. He pointed to the Ridge Street bridge in Rye Brook, which was torn down and rebuilt over the course of one summer. "The state needs to move much more quickly something like this does happen again."