New York Supreme Court Judge Robert Muller issued a temporary restraining order on Friday blocking the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation from constructing a new 140-foot steel motor vehicle bridge over the Cedar River.
DEC wants to build the bridge to create a shorter snowmobile route between Indian Lake and Newcomb. The planned route also requires a second legally questionable bridge across the Boreas River, also designated Scenic, as well as permissions from numerous land owners.
The restraining order was issued in response to a lawsuit brought in January by Adirondack Wild: Friends of the Forest Preserve and Protect the Adirondacks! claiming that the new bridge violates the State’s Wild, Scenic and Recreational Rivers System Act.
The suit challenges DEC’s issuance of a permit to itself for the bridge construction as violating the River Act’s prohibition of motorized recreation, including snowmobiling, in Scenic river areas. The lawsuit also claims that DEC failed to conduct the required legal and environmental reviews prior to issuing the permit.
Adirondack Wild’s David Gibson told the press that the judge prevented DEC from cutting trees, clearing the river bank, driving steel pilings and pouring cement at the remote Cedar River site.
“The proposed bridge is redundant because several miles upstream there is already a motor vehicle bridge over the Cedar River which connects the communities of Indian Lake and Newcomb,” said Peter Bauer, Executive Director of Protect the Adirondacks, in a statement sent to the press. “There are currently two other lawsuits which are pending in higher courts that would also prevent this bridge from being constructed. We see no valid demonstrated public need for the State to build this bridge at this time.”
The Judge rejected DEC’s argument that the Court lacked authority to issue the order because the Department had a statutory duty to build the bridge, ruling instead that constructing the bridge was discretionary.
The restraining order will remain in place until July 19, when the Court will hear arguments on a preliminary injunction motion.
Photo of Cedar River, roughly where DEC wants to build the new steel bridge provided by David Gibson. Map provided by Adirondack Atlas.