Niagara Gazette

March 29, 2014

LETTERS FROM THE ISLAND: Bridge report fills in the gaps

By Doug and Polly Smith
Niagara Gazette

Niagara Gazette — Dear Mainland Conspiracy Theorists — We were not surprised to learn that the South Grand Island Bridge was actually in pretty good shape when the Thruway Authority decided to “fix it” two summers ago.

When we heard recently about the shenanigans, it reminded us of the Friday morning in September when Doug tried to set off on a baseball excursion to New Jersey and found traffic backed up all the way to Niagara Falls.

Overnight the contractors had attempted to lower a segment of new pavement into a hole in the bridge, only to have it roll around the rim and out like a last-second shot in March Madness. Nobody moved for a day. Couples with RV’s jammed maternity wards nine months later.

That’s why we nodded knowingly when the Grudge Report went public with the tape of a 2011 phone conversation between Commissioner Rex D. Rhodes and maintenance chief Rus T. Brydges. If you missed it, here’s the transcript:

Rhodes – Hey, Rus, how much work do they need on that overpass to Grand Island?

Brydges – Looks like a few nights with routine paving.

Rhodes – Sure that’s all? I’ve got an old classmate in Pennsylvania who’d like to experiment with some new methods and this seems like just the job.

Brydges – How’d his bid compare to the others?

Rhodes – Ten times as much, taking 10 times as long, but it’s not my money, and who lives on Grand Island anyway, a buncha cows?

Brydges – Dunno, but in the last election for governor they gave Carl Paladino the biggest vote margin he got anywhere. Not even his family gave him the percentage he got on Grand Island.

Rhodes – Wait a minute, wait a minute, Carl Paladino, isn’t that the (anatomical expletive deleted) who ranted and raved until we had to take out the toll plazas at Black Rock and Ogden Street!

Brydges – Uh, yeah, that’s the guy. It was OK, we made more money on the contract to demolish the booths than we were taking in in tolls, but yeah, that’s the guy who made us look bad.

Rhodes – And he lives on Grand Island? Don’t they have any standards at all over there?

Brydges – No, he doesn’t, and there’s not even enough Republicans there for two tables of pinochle, but they love him.

Rhodes – Pinochle? Nobody over there plays bridge?

Brydges – Nobody on Grand Island can even SAY bridge without saying (copulative expletive) first.

Rhodes – And these people voted for Paladino?

Brydges – Yup. More than two to one.

Rhodes – Sounds like somebody needs to be taught a lesson. So here’s what you’re gonna do. On the first really busy Friday morning… (tape runs out at this point).

Well, that’s what happened, according to Grudge, and you can take it from there.

And we hope everybody concerned can take a joke. April Fool. Come visit, we love you, honest.

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