By REBECCA WEBSTER
Recorder News Staff
Construction of Amsterdam's pedestrian bridge will likely begin this fall.
That's the latest update from the city's Director of Community and Economic Development, Robert von Hasseln.
The digital renderings of the bridge become more and more inclusive as the weeks and months pass, the vision of what the bridge will become growing clearer.
"Things came to our head a little over the past two months because to keep the project on schedule, all of the design work needed to be done by now," von Hasseln said. "And it is."
"It's moving along pretty much on schedule and people have been working very hard on behalf of the project," said Congressman Paul Tonko, D-Amsterdam. "As we continue to advance the project it continues to grow increasingly as a destination."
The engineering design work is completed, von Hasseln said, and the book of designs will be handed to interested contractors when the Request for Bids goes out in a few months. In August, the New York State Thruway Authority and Canal Corporation will sign a contract with instructions to, "build this exactly as it's drawn."
"The goal is to have the entire thing built by October of 2015," von Hasseln said. "This is a lot further along than people realize."
In a statement released Friday, Brian Stratton, director of the Canal Corporation, said the bridge will only add to the waterfront.
"The Mohawk Valley Overlook Bridge will connect the north and south sides of Amsterdam's vibrant waterfront and be a destination for residents and visitors from -- and beyond -- the Mohawk Valley for generations to come," Stratton said. "We remain very excited about this transformative project and remain on schedule for a contract award in the fall of 2013."
Once referred to as the "Amsterdam Pedestrian Bridge," the bridge has a new name, "The Mohawk Valley Gateway Overlook."
This idea of the "overlook" bridge is something that is going to stick, von Hasseln said.
Tonko said the idea of using the word "overlook" rids the bridge of the image that it is a way to get from one side to another.
"I like the overlook concept because as I said it's taking on more than just a connector piece between two points, it will be a destination," Tonko said. "It will be a park on a river. It will be a heritage overlay, which will allow us to cherish and respect the history of those who have come before us."
Throughout the past few months, von Hasseln said they have been deep in discussion about how those historical aspects will be represented.
While the entrance sculptures are still being discussed, the artistic elements that are set in stone will be the compass-like seals that will be smattered across the walkway on benches and planters.
Each seal will have a story icon on it, relating to a piece of history that the visitors will read about nearby.
"They all embrace this compass rose design," von Hasseln said.
Story icons include a leaf to symbolize "renewing," a road to symbolize "moving," an arrow head to symbolize "living," and a factory building to symbolize "working," among others.
When the bridge is completed, two large circular story markers will be placed at either end of the bridge.
"This is a way to integrate everything you've seen and hold on to it," von Hasseln said.
All of the 12 story icons will border one large compass-rose seal that says, "What once was home is home again. My Amsterdam."
On the other side of the bridge will be a story marker mosaic of the Wheel of Life carpet produced by Mohawk Fabrics in 1938.
And at the center of the bridge will be small seals saying the names of the six neighborhoods that are visible from the bridge.
"And then around it (the seal) in a semi-circular design are six or seven words, names, phrases that kind of are evocative of that neighborhood area."
Tonko said the bridge will be a location to remember and respect the figures of the past.
"It's just a great heritage tribute to the ever-increasing mosaic that embraces the diversity of our region and its cornerstone as a building block to Amsterdam and, in a general sense, to all mill towns."