ELIZABETHTOWN — The long saga of what to do about the Otis Bridge is almost over.
The Essex County Board of Supervisors Public Works Committee recently OK’d an agreement among the county, State Department of Environmental Conservation, Adirondack Park Agency and State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation to replace the 1911 span with a new bridge and to move the old one-lane span to the Essex County Fairgrounds.
Next, the measure gets a vote by the Ways and Means committee on Monday, July 30, with a final one by the full Board of Supervisors in Aug. 6.
Without the agreement, the Otis Bridge project couldn’t proceed, Department of Public Works Superintendent Anthony LaVigne said.
The county had already given its own approval for the project, but “the letter of resolution confirms Essex County’s intent to relocate the old Otis Bridge to the Essex County Fairgrounds, where it will be displayed and used as a footbridge,” he said. “The letter is necessary to progress both the APA and DEC permits for the Otis Bridge project.”
The controversy over Otis Bridge has been rolling since 2005, when the county first announced it wanted to replace the historic bridge with a modern, two-lane span.
Although some county officials first said the replacement was so emergency vehicles, such as ambulances, could reach the handful of seasonal camps on the other side of the 3-ton-limit bridge, it was later revealed that owners of 800 acres of timber tracts on the other side had asked for a new bridge so log trucks could cross.
The county was successfully sued by nearby property owners Harry Gough and Margaret Bartley because a full state environmental statement had not been done for the project.
A compromise was later worked out in which the couple donated land to relocate Otis Lane from their side yard, so vehicles wouldn’t pass close to their home.