The bridge work is intended to make the structures more resilient to flooding by widening them, DOT officials told residents at a public meeting at the Keene Fire House Thursday evening. In addition, new steel and concrete foundations will make them more secure. Several bridges will also be raised.
“What the project will do is protect the bridges from severe weather,” said DOT project manager Richard Filkins.
Seven of the bridges will be repaired with funds from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. The DOT will put that work out to bid in the near future and plans to choose a contractor early next year.
The DOT plans to have one contractor work on the seven bridges, with the possible exception of the bridge near Marcy Field because it has an historical designation.
The work schedule will then be determined by the contractor, or contractors, and public input. The DOT has tentatively scheduled to repair four bridges in 2015 and four in 2016.
Traffic will be reduced to one lane over the bridges while they’re being repaired. Filkins said the maximum delay drivers can expect when traveling through the entire construction zone on Route 73 will be four minutes.
DOT officials said they plan to give the contractors incentives to work in a timely fashion and to avoid working in the prime tourist season of July and August, if possible.
The seven bridges to be put out to be bid are as follows:
– Route 73 bridge over Beede Brook, near Saint Huberts (1)
– Route 73 bridge over Beede Brook, near Saint Huberts (2)
– Route 73 bridge over the East Branch of the Ausable River, near Saint Huberts
– Route 73 bridge over Johns Brook in Keene Valley
– Route 73 bridge over Johns Brook overflow in Keene Valley
– Route 73 bridge over the East Branch of the Ausable River, near Marcy Field
– Route 73 bridge over Cascade Lake Outlet, west of Keene
The work on the two bridges over Beede Brook near Saint Huberts and the Johns Brook overflow in Keene Valley are tentatively slated to start in 2015.
The eighth bridge is located over the East Branch of the Ausable River in Keene. That work is part of another bridge repair program that has already started. The eighth bridge will be rehabilitated using a mix of federal and state transportation funds.
The bridge will be repaired in 2015 in two stages to accommodate the Lake Placid Ironman triathlon on July 26. Both lanes will be open for the race, but only one lane will be open when construction is taking place there. The first stage will take place between April 1 and July 21, while the second stage will take place from July 29 until November 1. The Cascade Lake outlet bridge will also have two lanes open during Ironman.
During the meeting, DOT officials took questions from the crowd of about a dozen residents.
Marie McMahon, chair of Keene Business Association, asked DOT to let local businesses know the construction schedule as soon as possible, so they can make the appropriate adjustments. She noted some businesses are still recovering from Tropical Storm Irene in 2011 and can’t afford to lose customers.
“The biggest concern obviously is going to be the economic impacts of the businesses in the area,” McMahon told The Almanack, “but they’re obviously looking at the bigger picture and trying to find the win-win.”
Keene Supervisor Bill Ferebee said he’s been pleased by DOTs efforts so far, although he thought the delay could be more than four minutes when getting through the entire construction zone. But he said it was good the bridges are being repaired.
“It’s a positive move,” he said. “What if the Johns Brook bridge collapses or is red tagged, and the traffic has to be completely shut off? Then all the traffic is shut off in Keene Valley.”
DOT officials also said they will be repairing the bridge over state Route 73 near the Olympic Ski Jumping Complex in Lake Placid in the next few years, although no schedule has been determined for that job.