As time runs out, people are fired up about plans to tear down the McBride viaduct. “Why do we use redundancy when it comes to poor people?” These words coming from Reverand Charles Mock of Community Missionary Baptist Church as he tries to help those who are fighting for the viaduct to be repaired.
Estimates for the costs of restoration have ranged from $3 million to $6 million, depending on who is counting, but some say that if the city supports preservation, money from the new $5 vehicle registration fee could be applied.
“The $1.4 million dollars we’re going to raise year after year. That has not been allocated for any project,” says Jay Breneman, Former Erie County Councilman.
Mayor Joe Schember, though, told us last week that after talking with people on both sides of the issue, he believes the bridge should come down. “I’m still open to talking about it, but I believe the right thing to do for the city is to get it torn down. It just costs too much to repair it. We have a good north-south access with the pedestrian walkway on the Bayfront.”
Erie City Councilwoman, Kathleen Schaaf, voices her concern of safety issues. “…you have another pedestrian issue, walking is not that safe crossing the street.”
Beary Clark, Erie CPR Vice President, agrees, saying, “that’s the reason why the bridge was built in the first place; it’s about the safety of our children”.
Those in support of preservation say, apart from safety, the viaduct bridges a community that has been bisected.
Some are looking at the potential of the bridge’s renovation, like Urban Planner Charles McKinney, who says, “It certainly could be an arts bridge. It could be an outlet of venues of great note.”
Bill Lacey, Erie Resident and McBride advocate, says, “I know for a fact that the artistic uses of that space are enormous.”
Currently, PennDOT is reviewing seven bids from construction firms. A low bidder has been recognized for the amount of $1.5 million. The bid could be awarded within the next two months.