January 27, 2013

Essex County needs more bridge money


---- — ELIZABETHTOWN — The amount hasn’t been set yet, but Essex County is considering a million-dollar bridge bond to replace more ailing spans.

“What I would like to do is start another bridge bond, because I am running behind schedule on our bridge program,” County Department of Public Works Superintendent Anthony LaVigne said.

“Some of the reasons for that are (that) the damages from the 2011 storms delayed our five-year bridge replacement program one to two years.”


Now the county has three bridges that the state has said are structurally deficient and need immediate repairs.

“Because the five-year plan was delayed, we were unable to replace or repair scheduled bridges before red structural flags were issued by New York state,” LaVigne said.

“There are three red-flag bridges that need replacement in 2013.”

Lavigne said the new bond would include two of the high-priority bridges. The third bridge was included in a previous bridge bond and is in design, with construction scheduled for this year.

Ford Bridge and Martin’s Bridge, both in Schroon, and Moriah Center Bridge in Moriah are all red-flagged.


LaVigne doesn’t want to have to use State Comprehensive Highway Improvement Program funds, called CHIPs, for the bridges.

“Without the new bridge bond, I will need to use CHIPs funds to replace the red-flag bridges. This will diminish the highway maintenance program, resulting in insufficient funds to address the minimum of 30 miles per year to stay ahead of the highway deterioration curve.”

The County Board of Supervisors Public Works Committee gave LaVigne and Essex County Treasurer Michael Diskin approval to start work on a bond issue that could be presented at a future meeting.

“The roads are going to fall apart if we’re taking the CHIPs money and using it to rehabilitate bridges,” Supervisor Thomas Scozzafava (R-Moriah) said.

He said Moriah has two temporary bridges in place now: Sprague Mill Bridge on Ensign Pond Road and Moriah Center Bridge. Both were heavily damaged by Tropical Storm Irene in 2011. Sprague Mill Bridge is awaiting federal and state funding for replacement.

“We’re just falling behind here,” Scozzafava said. “We all know what happens when a bridge goes out, and what happens in that community. There are safety concerns.”

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