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State Deems Bridge Safe To Use, But Be Careful

As state officials told Ellery Town Board members recently, the Veterans Memorial Bridge over Chautauqua Lake is safe to use.

County officials have been told the state Transportation Department has reviewed the project again and work will continue as originally scheduled. The delay was justified. Enough people use the structure each day that the review was the right thing to do. The important thing now is that people are paying attention, the state has been made aware of concerns and, because of that, we’re sure they will be watching the project even more closely than they already were. And, those who still aren’t sure about the bridge’s stability can avoid the area entirely.

It’s worth noting, however, that because the state says the bridge is safe to use during construction doesn’t mean all of us who use the bridge regularly don’t need to use some caution on the structure.

Last week, traffic was stopped when a tractor trailer and a car collided on the bridge, with the car left wedged wedged between the tractor trailer’s tires and trailer and the jersey barriers on the side of the bridge. Passengers in the car were able to get out and were largely unhurt, but the accident is a reminder, during our summer season, that everyone using the bridge has to slow down in the construction zone, make sure there is enough space between vehicles and be particularly careful when merging onto the bridge.

Merging onto the bridge can be tricky because there isn’t a second lane of traffic. That means sometimes traffic getting onto the bridge will have to stop and wait until it is safe to merge. Drivers need to slow down in general so there is space to merge rather than speeding until you’re riding the bumper of the car ahead of you.

And, for those who decide the hassle isn’t worth it, just avoid the bridge – particularly during the summer season. Take the long way around the lake via Route 430 or Route 394. Or, on the weekend, take a step back in time and take a ride on the Bemus Point-Stow Ferry.

Bridge reconstruction will be a fact of life for the next few years. This inconvenience isn’t exactly temporary, but it will be worth it in the long run.

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