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Ferry Street lift bridge remains under wraps

Mike Desmond/wbfo news

While the city's Ferry Street Bridge has become something of an artwork in the tradition of Christo, it's actually an environmental envelope in a section of the city especially concerned about air pollution.

While the most visible part of the project is the plastic wrap-the bridge in a bag- the real reason is almost underneath in a closed-off section of Ferry Street. That's the air compressors and piping and other pieces of the sandblasting system taking off layers of lead paint from the bridge assembly.

"They're sandblasting the paint and other material that's on there and it minimizes any of that material from blowing up on the Thruway," said Public Works Commissioner Steven Stepniak.

It's more than just getting rid of the lead paint which will be replaced by a more modern coating which doesn't contain a contaminant like lead. Stepniak says the major reason is that the bridge is old and tired.

"The bridge has seen its better days and we're looking at rehab that bridge at $8.5 million. It'll be a nice overview that the bridge will be completely rehabbed structurally and mechanically."

Stepniak says the bridge will be finished in the spring, allowing much easier access to the park land on Unity Island and the walkway along the Black Rock Channel.

Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.