ELLENBURG — The Narrows Road bridge, linking the northeast and southeast shores of Chateaugay Lake, will be replaced.
“This will be an inconvenience, but it has to be done,” Clinton County Legislator Robert Butler (R-Area 6, Saranac) said.
The aging bridge was replaced in 2010 as part of the federal government’s stimulus program. Construction was done in the spring and summer of that year, but upon completion of the project, an inspection showed cracks in six of the nine prefabricated cement archways.
The bridge was declared safe for traffic up to 19 tons, but county officials worried its life would be compromised by the cracks. They refused to accept it and sought to have the job re-done.
“Normally when you contract a job, you assume it will work out fine, but we can’t take a faulty bridge,” said Legislator Harry McManus (D-Area 1, Champlain), who chairs the county’s Transportation Committee.
The contractor for the job was J.E. Sheehan Contracting Corp. of Potsdam. The prefab archways were supplied by Contech Construction Products of Ohio, a subcontractor for Sheehan.
The county paid Sheehan about 80 percent of the $1.3 million cost before stopping payments when officials learned of the cracks. The federal stimulus money for the project will not be delivered to the county until a new bridge is completed and passes inspection.
The county will have to recoup its money from Sheehan.
Deputy County Administrator Rodney Brown said the case against the contractor will likely go to court as the county seeks to rectify the situation.
A call to Jim Sheehan of J.E. Sheehan Contracting Corp. went unreturned.
In the meantime, the county’s Highway Department is preparing designs for the rebuild. Highway Superintendent Al Rascoe said bids for the new bridge will go out in February or March, and work should begin in April.