By LOHR McKINSTRY
---- — ELIZABETHTOWN — Essex County saved almost $1 million and months of construction time by using free prefabricated bridges that the state had declared surplus.
“It’s nice to have a success story rather than more doom and gloom,” County Department of Public Works Superintendent Anthony LaVigne said.
The Inverset modular bridges had been in use at Adirondack Northway overpasses and were replaced by the State Department of Transportation with newer spans.
The bridges had only about 15 years of use on a 70-year lifespan, LaVigne said, so he figures they’ll last at least another 50 years.
STATE OF THE ART
“It’s America’s infrastructure with a few recycled bridges using shared services. It is a state-of-the-art type of pre-cast structure, and so the state offered the bridges to Essex County and the Town of North Elba at no cost. So we said, ‘Well, let’s look at it,’” LaVigne said.
They were surprised to see the free bridges were in great shape.
“Our consultant, Shroder Rivers Associates, provided a creative design to make those bridges fit. Usually, you build a bridge from the bottom up; these bridges would be built from the top down. Essex County transports the bridge.”
BUSY LOJ ROAD
The first one was taken to Adirondack Loj Road in North Elba, one of the entrances to the High Peaks, where a culvert bridge owned by the town had been condemned. The new bridge will be owned by Essex County.
“It has peak traffic counts of around a thousand cars (daily),” LaVigne said. “So the culvert did not meet the county span requirements; it had to be condemned because it looked like it was ready to fall down. It was a town project with no funding. We tried for a couple of years to get funding for the project but were unsuccessful.”
He said they replaced a one-lane bridge with a two-lane unit.
“The Inverset bridge saved costs; it was free. The estimated savings was about $250,000 on this one project. The construction time is saved because of the Inverset panels, short-term construction costs, because you don’t have any cure time on site.
“Overall, it was a very successful project.”
Storms and red flags started taking out more bridges last year, LaVigne said, following DOT inspections and tropical storms Lee and Irene.
“There were two devastating storm events, washing out 10 bridges. Bridge inspections brought unexpected red flags. DOT offered to help again with more Inverset bridges, so we went down and looked at them.”
Besides the Loj Road Bridge, three county bridge projects got Inverset spans: Gouchie Bridge in Minerva, which was a red flag, and Hulbert Bridge in Lewis and Lacey Bridge in Keene, which were both Irene-damaged.
“Lacey Bridge before Irene was a restrictive flow, a maintenance headache,” LaVigne said. “It was a hodgepodge bridge that was on a low-volume road that we tried to keep open over the years. It seems like I was ... there just about every other year fixing something. After Irene, it was completely missing.”
After construction with the Inverset, there was no stream restriction, and the span width was increased 30 percent, he said.
The bridge in Minerva had to be done fast, he said, because it had been closed, so they got Adirondack Concrete of Keeseville to do the work.
“Gouchie Bridge was actually programmed for the Inverset when we picked them up in the summer. We were planning on replacing the bridge, and then we got an unexpected red flag with a 24-hour response, and so we had to close the bridge. We had to react very quickly. We actually built Gouchie Bridge in four weeks.”
Minerva Town Supervisor Sue Montgomery Corey praised LaVigne, his department and the contractor who installed that new bridge, which opened Oct. 10.
“I was down there a few weeks before it was finished and couldn’t believe how great the site looked,” she said. “It was well cared for. The neighbors were pretty happy about it and said the crew that was hired did just a very wonderful job, and they were good at communicating with the neighbors.
“That was greatly appreciated by me and by the Town of Minerva.”
The contractor for Adirondack Loj Bridge was Stephen Miller Construction of Gloversville, while J.T. Erectors of Malone did Hulbert and Lacey bridges.
“Tony did a great job,” Keene Town Supervisor William Ferebee said. “J.T. Erectors did a very good job, and they were well liked by the residents. It is a good company.”
Now they’re hoping to get more Inverset bridges as the state does replacements, LaVigne said.
“It was a very successful bridge-replacement program. It saved $800,000 of taxpayers’ money and an estimated two month’s construction time on each bridge. These types of bridges are state-of-the-art and do have much lower maintenance costs.”
With estimated cost of the additional construction time added, the savings would likely have been more than $1 million, officials said.
“This is a success story for our department,” LaVigne said.
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