Elmira residents speak out about dangerous Clemens Center Parkway bridge

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ELMIRA, NY (WETM) – Prolonged construction on the multiple bridges in Elmira has now turned dangerous. The Elmira community is speaking out about unsafe crossing conditions on the Clemens Center Parkway bridge.

“A close friend of the family was hit and killed,” said Elmira resident, Sam Somostrada.

Cars and trucks zoom by, on the extremely busy Clemens Center Parkway bridge. While crossing the bridge on Monday, a seventy-year-old Elmira resident died in a car-pedestrian accident.

When Somostrada’s friend died crossing that bridge, he decided it was time to speak out. In a Facebook post, he called on the city of Elmira officials to enact change.

“Either eliminate the problem by enforcing stricter rules or put an alternate route on that bridge,” said Somostrada. “I would really hate to see someone hurt and killed in the same fashion as my dear friend.”

One of our 18 News reporters watched the bridge for approximately ten minutes and reported multiple people walking and biking across. Commuters are actively using this non-pedestrian and unsafe bridge since the next closest one is under construction.

The Main Street bridge, about 1000 ft down the road used to be open for pedestrians, but, has been closed and under construction for about seven months now.

“People are going to use that next best option, if many of the other bridges are being constructed on, they’re going to the no pedestrian bridge even though they are not supposed to,” said Somostrada

Officials did sign a pedestrian detour to the Walnut St. bridge, which has sidewalks and is meant for pedestrians and cyclists.

“We’re over-saddened by the injuries, regardless of the circumstances, jurisdiction, or location… We re recommend pedestrians crossing the river to use the detour,” said Andrew Avery, Chemung County Public Works Commissioner.

But the Walnut St bridge is over a mile away.

“It’s dangerous but if I had to I probably would do it too [cross the non-pedestrian Clemens Center Parkway bridge] rather than take 20-30 minutes to walk to the other bridge,” said Eileen Bednar, Elmira resident.

It does not look like a pedestrian lane will be made on the Clemens Center Parkway bridge.

“In my opinion, it takes a lot to have to put jersey barriers/ concrete barriers… very costly,” said Don Freeland, Fisher Associates engineer in charge of the Main St. bridge construction.

According to Elmira City officials, the Main St. bridge is slated to be done and ready for traffic and pedestrians by the end of the year, with 8 feet of sidewalk on either side. Additionally, the Lake St. bridge, which has been closed for ten years will reopen as a pedestrian-cyclist-only bridge in November.

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