By Elizabeth Riggs

In a ribbon-cutting ceremony held last Sunday morning, the “Old 219 bridge” over the Cattaraugus Creek, which links Erie and Cattaraugus Counties, has now been officially reopened.

The old bridge, originally built in the 1950s, was shut down by the state last May after officials deemed it unsafe for travel, and was imploded last June by Governor Andrew Cuomo with 35 pounds of explosives.

The new bridge, now known as the South Cascade Drive-Miller Road Bridge, was completed under the originally estimated budget at $16.9 million and also ahead of schedule. It features two 12-foot travel lanes and an eight-foot shoulder on each side.

The completion of the bridge, which many legislators referred to as a “lifeline” Sunday morning, is a relief for business owners in the area who no longer have to worry about obstructions for customers.

“I remember as county clerk I used to come down to Springville every Thursday. I had a chance to meet the business owners and get to know them better and I understand the stress and the fear when something changes,” said Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul of the initial distress in the community with the bridge being removed.

“The opening of this bridge … symbolizes a commitment from our governor to ensure that our infrastructure is solid, and strong, and safe. This is one part of his $100 billion initiative to make sure that we live up to our responsibility as stewards of the roads, the bridges, the highways, the byways of the state of New York and this bridge symbolizes exactly that,” said Hochul. “This road, this bridge, this connection, symbolizes success.”

Also in attendance for the event was New York Senator Catharine Young, who spoke about the bridge’s unique location, and the challenges that it was up against in relation to funding and maintenance.

“We knew that we had to replace this bridge, and there were several challenges related to that,” said Young. “This bridge is unique because half of it is in Cattaraugus County and the other half is in Erie County and there aren’t too many bridges like that around the state of New York.”

Young went on to explain that legislators were able to secure $300,000, which has gone into an escrow account, that will cover the maintenance of the bridge for the next 22 years. She also thanked local governments and business owners for their roles in making the new bridge a reality.

“I want to thank all of the local governments that are here today. It’s your advocacy that really turned this whole situation around,” Young said. “We are so grateful for all that you did to make sure that we were able to get this done.”

According to Springville Mayor William Krebs, the bridge is the perfect example of how working together can make a lasting impact.

“This $17 million investment in infrastructure will serve our communities for decades to come, proving that governments can do the right thing if we work together to do the people’s business. That should always be our guiding principle,” Krebs said.

According to the Department of Transportation, the bridge is estimated to have a lifespan of 75 years.