Posted by: David Giacalone | June 30, 2018

still missing the view from WGB

IMG_7382cement parapet on the western side of the Western Gateway Bridge [WGB] has blocked the view of the Mohawk River for those in passenger vehicles since the summer of 2013 [image on right]. WGB is NY Rt. 5 and connects Schenectady with Scotia/Glenville, passing over the Isle of the Cayugas.

But, let’s take a peek over the parapet:

. . click on a photo for a larger version! . . share this post with: http://tinyurl.com/scenicWGB

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. . [above] the Schenectady side and [below] the Scotia side of Mohawk River channels created by the Isle of the Cayugas, as seen from the sidewalk of the Western Gateway Bridge, on June 15, 2018, near sunset: 

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. . and, in between, the island: IMG_7373

 . . IMG_7368

 . . .

How the heck did that happen? Scenic river views are treasured everywhere, and bridge views are protected by statute in many states!

If you have lived near or used the Western Gateway Bridge for less than five years, you may not know the sad tale. You see, WGB was “rehabbed” in 2013, at a cost of $16.9 million. It previously looked like this for about 40 years:

wgb2002-guardrails

No, the cement walls were not utilized for safety reasons, nor to save money. Instead, decision-makers at the NYS Department of Transportation decided that the “embossed” cement parapet was “aesthetically more pleasing” than steel or wooden rails, and myopically forgot about the view. Really. And, our local politicians and civil servants did not monitor the design, and then came up with lame excuses for not Demanding our Scenic View Back.

GazBenasIllus2013DetDon’t get me started. For the full story, see our posting “DOT, give us back the sidewalk guardrails and scenic view on WGB” (Oct. 3, 2013); and more concisely, my Sunday Gazette View-Point piece “Loss of scenic vistas and guardrails on Western Gateway Bridge falls on shoulders of local leaders” (Nov. 17, 2013). To the left is a detail from my favorite Gazette editorial illustration ever, by Jeanne A. Benas, which accompanied the OpEd piece. (Nov. 17, 2013; click on the detail to see the full image).

Nonetheless, our pleas for a return of the view, and for the safety of guardrails along the roadway, apparently did help the folks who use the Rexford Bridge, where the views were preserved, and the bike-ped path was raised and given a guardrail. See the Gazette photo, by Marc Schultz, taken when the Rexford Bridge opened in November 2017.

On June 15, 2018, after bemoaning the lost view when driving across the bridge for the past half decade, I took my camera to the west side of the Bridge, without a ladder or black cat.

Here are a few more images of the western view from the Western Gateway Bridge, taken that evening. (click on a photo for a larger version)

IMG_7379

. . IMG_7380

IMG_7366 . . . .

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LOOKING EAST. Thanks to a Gazette editorial and public outcry in 2013, DOT quickly reversed itself and installed steel rails rather than another cement parapet on the east side of WGB (but would not remove the west wall). The scene toward the east is not as “natural” or “scenic” as the westward view, but here are more pictures taken from the Western Gateway Bridge during that June 15 photoshoot, looking east.

IMG_7383 . . Scotia’s Freedom Park bandstand

IMG_7386

IMG_7374

IMG_7370 . . no, that’s not a high school or office building, it’s our “international tourist destination” Casino, above a steep rip-rap rocky bank

IMG_7391 (1) . . the Riverside Park “esplanade/overlook”

IMG_7347 . . yep, part of WGB is over Rotterdam . .

IMG_7346 . . IMG_7345

. . above: view from Schenectady end of WGB of Binnekill, with Fr. Carlito’s pontoon . . 

My Home Block: I also focused on the rear of Washington Avenue and Cucumber Alley properties, as seen from the WGB.

IMG_7390 . . happily, still mostly a natural riverbank . . 

IMG_7389 . .

. . img_7388-e1530390954316.jpg

. . above: [top, L] 4 Washington Ave., with retaining wall above bank; [R] 1 Cucumber Alley, with lawn carved along riverbank, and new doorway atop roof (see image below left) . . 

IMG_7395 

IMG_7357 . .

Finally, I snapped quite a few shots that evening from the County’s Gateway Park, f/k/a Gateway Landing, and was surprised to see it was posted with a No Trespassing sign. (Perhaps an over-reaction to its dock being destroyed in the Jan-Feb ice jam flooding.) Its lovely gazebo was empty, but some geese ignored the signs and enjoyed the Park and riverbank.

 

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