ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (WIVB) - A popular bridge to Ralph Wilson Stadium has been removed. The metal bridge once connected a game-day parking lot to the stadium property, but Orchard Park officials took it down.
Department of Public Works Commissioner John Loffredo says his crews removed it because of concerns about security and safety.
"When we looked at it, it's like, well, what is this thing doing here? If we leave it there that means that we're inviting somebody to use it. And if this thing is not designed right, and somebody gets hurt, who's fault is it?" Loffredo said.
Joseph DeMarco's family owns Wings Flights of Hope on California Road. Their back parking lot borders the stadium, and he says 3,000 to 4,000 people used the once easy-access to home games.
"It was just an easy path to walk across so you didn't have to walk through the water," DeMarco said. "When we purchased the property in 2005, the bridge was already there. We did some upkeep on it because it was getting a little run down, and we did some maintenance on it."
Not only did county crews remove the bridge from the ravine, they also removed stairs. Plus the Buffalo Bills have installed a chain link fence around the stadium perimeter.
With no easy access, fans will have to walk along California Road to the nearest entrance.
"So you're going to add about 3,000 to 4,000 people walking on the road instead of giving them safe access off the roads in a well-lit area," DeMarco said.
But Loffredo argues that's a common condition on game day.
"It's not going to present any more of a problem than in other areas around the stadium," he said.
Last November, 26-year-old David Gerkin, Jr. was found dead about a mile away from the bridge in a stream near the stadium following a home game.
DeMarco said, "I think it's just the Bills trying to flex their muscle because of the poor individual who got kicked out of the game drunk last year, and passed away in the ravine."
But Loffredo disputes that.
"Let's take that out. If that never happened, the bridge would still be removed," he said.
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