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Bay Outlet Bridge Issue Resurfaces In Aftermath of Webster Shooting Tragedy

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Rochester: Bay Outlet Bridge Issue Resurfaces In Aftermath of Webster Shooting Tragedy
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In light of the December 24th Webster tragedy, one resident is urging lawmakers to take a second look at making a permanent crossing at the Irondequoit Bay outlet.

It's been a bone of contention between boaters and motorists for many years, and now there's a renewed effort to keep the bridge open to motorists year round.

During the Christmas Eve ambush, firefighter Joe Hofstetter called for help.

"I am struck in the lower back and lower leg I need immediate EMS."

One resident says had the bridge been closed to cars the outcome could have been quite different.

"If that event had happened on July 4th, middle of summertime, no bridge, how would Joe have gotten out?" asked Sharon Sienkiewicz.

Sienkiewicz, of Webster, started a petition on Facebook to put a permanent bridge at the Irondquoit Bay outlet. She says it's a longstanding issue of public safety.

"If the guy on Lake Road has a heart attack, if they take the ambulance, it's a twenty minute drive, over the outlet it's probably a ten minute drive to the hospital," she said.

On the issue of response time, the Seabreeze Fire Department agrees year-round access to the Irondequoit side would help mutual aid efforts.

"It would be a benefit to both West Webster Fire Department and Seabreeze Department because we rely to help each other out," said Commissioner Ray Walker.

As it stands now, the bridge stays open for boats from April 1st until November 1st.

So what would it take to explore a more permanent option?

"You have to make it high enough so boats can go under without being raised the whole time or you make it a an automated bridge but you have to have people there to operate it," said Terry Rice, Monroe County DOT.

The Coast Guard decides how long the bridge stays open to boaters. The DOT says not only would a larger bridge upset property owners on the Webster side but it's very costly.

"We're talking as low as ten million to 50, 60 million dollars," said Rice.

Town supervisor Ron Nesbitt says it doesn't make sense from an economic development standpoint. He spoke with a Coast Guard representative who said they adamantly oppose changing any bridge procedures.

"People think it's not going to change but I say this is a new time, new events have happened, let's try again," said Sienkiewicz.

The West Webster Fire Department said it will not speculate on what could have happened it the bridge were accessible to motorists.

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