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Construction to Start on Letchworth Railroad Bridge

Portageville Bridge, constructed in 1875
Portageville Bridge, constructed in 1875

The Portageville railroad bridge spanning the Genesee River gorge at Letchworth State Park has been part of the scenery for 140 years.

This afternoon, ground will be broken as engineers get ready to build a new, $70 million dollar bridge about 75 feet south of the current one.

Norfolk Southern Corporation spokesman Dave Pidgeon says the historic 1875 bridge is a tribute to the craftsmanship of the 19th century.  But the old span can't handle modern freight rail transportation.

"Without this line, rail transportation becomes enormously difficult for those who need it - agriculture, manufacturing, stone, other products. Now, once this project is one, this line remains a viable part of the regional economy."

Pidgeon said the new bridge will not only allow heavier freight cars to travel faster over the gorge, it will enhance Letchworth’s iconic views.

"The scene three or four years from now will be this beautiful steel arch bridge that will not touch the river. It will open up the scenery as you look up into the gorge from the viewpoints up here at the upper falls."

Beth Adams joined WXXI as host of Morning Edition in 2012 after a more than two-decade radio career. She was the longtime host of the WHAM Morning News in Rochester. Her career also took her from radio stations in Elmira, New York, to Miami, Florida.