SHERMAN - A section of Interstate 86 through Sherman is now named after a man who spent years trying to make the road safer.
A brief meeting was held in Sherman near I-86 on Monday to commemorate the dedication of the bridge to Alfred F. Jones.
"Some of our speakers can talk about this," said state Sen. Catharine Young, R-Olean, "but the reason we pushed so hard to (name this bridge after Jones) is because Jones was such a strong advocate for finishing (I-86). Many people remember how bad the road was before Jones stepped in. He realized it was a very big safety issue, and that in order to stop people from getting hurt, we had to improve the safety of the road."
A section of Interstate 86 through Sherman is now named after Alfred F. Jones. Jones advocated for the completion of I-86.
P-J photo by Remington Whitcomb
According to Sen. Young, Jones served in the Army during World War II with the 751st tank battalion, where he was a tank commander. Afterward, he worked as the superintendent of buildings and ground at Chautauqua Central School for 40 years.
Additionally, he served as town justice for the town of Chautauqua for 16 years, served as a Chautauqua County legislator for eight years, was a life member of the American Legion and the VFW, was the first president of the Chautauqua Fire Department, was active as a member of the peacock masonic lodge, and was chairman of the North Chautauqua Lake Sewer Board.
"It is so fitting that we have a bridge here in Sherman named after Al," said state Assemblyman Andrew Goodell, R-Chautauqua County. "This road used to be a death trap. We used to call it the 'missing link.' There wasn't a year that went by where we didn't have a serious accident or even a fatality. I think the traffic engineers had a bit of a problem with that. As you know, we had one lane here, but further up the (highway) it was two lanes. After driving along on two lanes, people would get to this point and still think it was a two-lane highway, which caused some serious and completely avoidable accidents. Al took it upon himself to make sure that this became an interstate not just that we finished the 'missing link,' but that we make it I-86."
Following Goodell, Robert Erickson, a proxy for Fred Croscut, R-Sherman, spoke on Croscut's behalf.
"(Jones) was a hard working man," said Erickson. "He had a sincere interest in making I-86 safer. Al set goals for himself and always succeeded in accomplishing them. One day he came to me and he wanted a sign made. He told me he needs a sign pointing out how dangerous the 20 mile strip of I-86 was right here so travelers would know to be cautious. I told him I'd be happy to help. He came back a few days later with five 4 by 8 sheets of plywood and a 5 gallon can of primer paint. He smiled at me and said, 'it needs to be visible.' The sign kept a running total of the number of fatalities that occurred on that strip, and I really think it helped expedite the work that was so desperately needed. There's not a better man that the bridge could be named after, and I'm so happy to see Al get his recognition."
Following the speakers, a model of the sign which will be created for the bridge was unveiled by Goodell, Sen. Young and members of Jones's family. The actual sign which will be posted on the bridge has yet to be created and will be posted later.
"We're all so pleased," said William Jones, Alfred's son. "We've thought about it for a long time that he's spent countless hours working on this and we're just so happy that he's finally recognized for his hard work and years of service."