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Dec 17, 2013 2:31 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Sagaponack Bridge Repairs Could End Beloved Fishing Spot

Dec 18, 2013 12:18 PM

Generations of youth growing up on the East End have spent summer days with their arms hung over the steel piping guardrails of the Bridge Lane bridge above the waters of Sagg Pond, a length of string grasped in one hand feeling for the tug of a crab at the other.

That age-old pastime for Bridgehamptonites and Sagaponackers may now be coming to an end as needed repairs to the bridge, and the design mandates of federal grants that will fund more than half the $890,000 repair cost, will require that the concrete columns and sidewalks that separate them from the roadway be removed to make way for wider traffic lanes.

On Wednesday night, Southampton Town Highway Superintendent Alex Gregor will host an informational meeting for area residents to discuss the changes at the bridge and get a peek at what the new design will look like. The meeting will be held at the Bridgehampton Community Center on the Bridgehampton-Sag Harbor Turnpike at 6:30 p.m.

The improvements planned for next spring will widen the roadway from only about 15 feet wide to 20 feet wide, as is required by today’s state Department of Transportation guidelines. But making way for the extra roadway means the sidewalks on either side of the bridge that attract crabbers and anglers in spring and summer, will have to be removed.

The iron pipes hung between concrete columns that serve as a guardrail now will also be removed, replaced with steel guardrails that Mr. Gregor says will be capable of actually keeping a car from going off the bridge were it to lose control.

“What’s there now, wouldn’t stop anything from going over the bridge,” Mr. Gregor said recently. “The current bridge is functionally obsolete. It doesn’t meet any of today’s standards.”

Mr. Gregor acknowledged that the tiny shoulder and lack of sidewalk on the span will mean there will no longer be a place for the folks who used to gather on the bridge to pluck crabs and alewives from the pond. He noted that it has always been technically illegal to fish from the bridge, however common it may have been.

Pedestrians and cyclists will still be able to use the bridge, he said, as they would any shared roadway, though there will not be marked bike or pedestrian lanes. There will only be a very narrow shoulder between the traffic lanes and the guardrails he said.

The concrete footing at the eastern end of the bridge will also be replaced by a new steel footing. As part of the work around the footing, the town will grade and stabilize a boat ramp used by kayakers to access the pond with concrete pavers.

It is the second time that the condition of the bridge, which was built in 1923, has been at issue. In the 1980s, Suffolk County highway crews were prepared to remove the concrete bridge entirely, replacing it with a raised steel span. Outcry from area residents convinced the county to abandon its plans and make repairs to the bridge, but on the condition that the town take over maintenance of the structure.

In 2005, the town conducted a first phase of repairs, replacing the pilings that support the roadway over the pond. The second phase, repairs to the roadway and the new guardrails, is projected to cost $890,000. A federal grant for bridge repairs will cover $500,000 of that but requires that the new roadway meet current traffic safety standards. The town has bonded for the rest of the money.

Mr. Gregor said he expects the project to go out to bid in February and hopefully commence work by early spring so that it will be completed before the summer traffic season gets into full swing.

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Couldn't they build the bridge AND put a sidewalk on it? I don't understand the problem... or is it simply $$$$$
By Nature (2966), Hampton Bays on Dec 17, 13 3:38 PM
And width -- per federal standards which come with the money.
By PBR (4956), Southampton on Dec 17, 13 3:45 PM
Nature, are you familiar with this little "bridge?" Two cars can barely pass each other as it is. To accommodate one or two sidewalks, safety rails, and so forth, the width would have to double if not triple. And I am guessing that the federal standards will also require raising the roadbed significantly, perhaps to permit canoes and kayaks to pass under its beefed-up structure? TBD.

Another quaint old familiar piece of history will be gone . . .
By PBR (4956), Southampton on Dec 17, 13 3:48 PM
Quite familiar - it's my favorite road in the hamptons. Which is why I don't understand why they can't widen the bridge, and then add a sidewalk. Look, if the reason is monetary, OK but at least note that. The article and officials make it sound like it's physically impossible.

It's a shame that the historical bridge needs to be altered, but we can all agree that the thing is not safe, particularly in a world where SUVs are almost as big as mini-buses.
By Nature (2966), Hampton Bays on Dec 17, 13 9:46 PM
If the Town did not accept the federal grant money, and had to repair the bridge with its own funds, could it be kept more like it is, or would there be liability issues with keeping open a dangerous bridge?

Is the "carrot" of the money driving this approach?
By PBR (4956), Southampton on Dec 18, 13 9:30 AM
Removing a safe sidewalk for bicycles, pedestrians, baby carriages, horseback riders is insane and backward.
By bambi (76), bridgehampton on Dec 18, 13 5:31 AM
This particular bridge is totally unsafe for all of the above, as two cars can barely pass each other. This is the point IMO -- safety first.

Of course, vehicular traffic could be banned altogether on the bridge, and everyone would live just fine, although a few complaints might be heard especially in the summer months . . .
By PBR (4956), Southampton on Dec 18, 13 9:28 AM
Get some wacko to say that Pyrrhus Concer once crabbed from that bridge and maybe it could be saved.
By kpjc (161), east quogue on Dec 18, 13 8:59 AM
1 member liked this comment
Or that it was used by African American's as a lookout for people swimming in the bay in the early 1900's. Then the Town will buy it and make it a drive-thru musuem
By Nature (2966), Hampton Bays on Dec 18, 13 9:19 AM
Tone, people, tone . . .
By PBR (4956), Southampton on Dec 18, 13 9:25 AM
By Nature (2966), Hampton Bays on Dec 18, 13 10:27 AM
Nature, you don't see a possible racially-based change of tone in the two comments above? What does this bridge article have to do with racial background or ethnicity?

[ . . . you could start with condescension, misplaced attempt at humor, and so forth . . . ]
By PBR (4956), Southampton on Dec 18, 13 8:44 PM
Those who always cite race seem to be the most racist. My comment was a satire on idiots trying to save every old structure.
By kpjc (161), east quogue on Dec 19, 13 3:35 AM
Ah, one person's satire is often difficult to discern.

Hopefully your judgment of "most racist" was not directed this way (satirically speaking?).

And the "wacko" comment was also satire, said with no malice?

See, it gets complicated in matters satire . . .

Retire the satire?
By PBR (4956), Southampton on Dec 19, 13 4:43 AM
kojo explained it real well.

It had nothing to do with race - it had everything to do with the fact that politico's in this Town seem to have recently discovered that if they link a particular ethnic group (race) with a structure, they can get around actual rules/regulations/laws. Thus, the comments.

"whacko" (as I interpreted it) was meant to imply that someone with no actual information or basis for such a determination would suggest the link, and that the politico's would ...more
By Nature (2966), Hampton Bays on Dec 19, 13 11:30 AM
1 member liked this comment
Keep digging!

Your comments speak for themselves . . . [especially the last one] . . .
By PBR (4956), Southampton on Dec 19, 13 2:30 PM
What a travesty. This is "stupid." If it were a one lane covered wooden bridge, would we be replacing it with a generic 2 lane federally compliant bridge? There needs to be a place for historic one lane bridges used by pedestrians. There is good visibility on that bridge, and cars can wait their turn. Works in Loudoun County VA (and all over VA for that matter), and could easily work here, as it has in the case of this bridge forever. Sometimes, we can be TOO safe. Slow down, and wait your ...more
By M. O'Connor (147), Southampton on Dec 18, 13 9:45 AM
September 2002:
New York State Department of Transportation
Historic Bridge Management Plan

Prepared for:
New York State Department of Transportation, Albany, New York
Federal Highway Administration
Albany, New York

By M. O'Connor (147), Southampton on Dec 18, 13 9:51 AM
Here's a wild, out-of-the-box idea. Why not widen to roadway to 26' instead of 20' and include both a bicycle lane and a pedestrian walkway separated from vehicular traffic by a barrier? Do federal subsidies not extend beyond a certain width? Moreover, it's hard figure out how requiring bicyclists and pedestrians to "share the roadway" with cars will make the bridge safer. (Well, maybe for cars, since the soft targets that they hit will cushion the cars when they subsequently hit the functionally ...more
By highhatsize (4217), East Quogue on Dec 18, 13 10:26 AM
One is at one's best when one is being facetious . . .
By PBR (4956), Southampton on Dec 18, 13 8:47 PM

If you widen the bridge then drivers will not slow down and enjoy the view. Make the bridge safe but don't take away the charm.
By auntof9 (159), Southampton on Dec 19, 13 10:32 AM
the bridge cannot handle the worker traffic since they take the short cut off Mecox Road at 27 and come down Paul's Lane turn left, turn right and head down Bridge Lane at good speeds. Go over the bridge and DONOT wait for oncoming cars to exit the bridge. Money is too good out here for people to respect the history of the bridge and the local's opinions as to the many years of generations going the fish and crab cannot be understood by the workers so we need to rally our troops and do what ...more
By xtiego (698), bridgehampton on Dec 20, 13 6:23 PM
How about no vehicular traffic at all -- only pedestrians, bikes, strollers, etc.?
By PBR (4956), Southampton on Dec 21, 13 12:57 PM
no just the overweight heavy trucks using the bridge every day which contribute to the unsafe loads the bridge was not meant to handle
By xtiego (698), bridgehampton on Dec 21, 13 5:54 PM