The Moriah Center bridge, which is scheduled to be replaced next year, has been “red flagged” by the state Department of Transportation. A DOT inspection Aug. 1 determined the span should not carry traffic weighing 5 tons of more.
The Moriah Center bridge, which is scheduled to be replaced next year, has been “red flagged” by the state Department of Transportation.
A DOT inspection Aug. 1 determined the span should not carry traffic weighing 5 tons of more. That means large vehicles — including fire trucks and school buses — can no longer use the bridge on Plank Road.
The bride remains open for use by passenger vehicles.
The Moriah Center Bridge, which spans Mill Brook, was built in 1920. It had major repairs in 1987.
Tony LaVigne, Essex County superintendent of public works, said work to replace the bridge is scheduled in 2013 and is expected to take about three months.
As part of the project Essex County is seeking an easement to use property east of the present bridge to erect a one-lane temporary span with a signal light to keep traffic moving during the construction.
Tom Scozzafava, Moriah supervisor, said efforts will now be made to speed up the temporary bridge project in hopes of having it open before school starts in September.
Bill Larrow, Moriah Central School superintendent, said school bus routes will have to be changed if there is no bridge available in Moriah Center.
“It would be a huge disruption to the school,” Larrow said. “We’d have to change our bus routes.”
The new Moriah Center Bridge is expected to cost about $1.7 million. The federal Highway and Bridge Reconstruction and Rehabilitation Project will pay for 80 percent of the work, LaVigne said. New York State will pay 15 percent of the cost and Essex County will pay the remaining 5 percent.
The Moriah Center Bridge is the most-heavily traveled span in the county, handling more vehicles a day than the Champlain Bridge that connects New York and Vermont.
“The daily average traffic across the (Moriah Center) bridge is more than 4,000 cars a day,” LaVigne said. “It peaks at about 6,000 a day.”
That’s no surprise to Scozzafava.
“We have a lot of people who use that bridge to get to work at the (Moriah Shock) prison and to Elizabethtown (the county seat,” he said. “There are two hamlets with about 3,000 people living north of the bridge and another 2,000 people south of the bridge in Port Henry. That’s a busy area.”
Scozzafava noted four roads — Plank Road, Witherbee Road, Moriah Road and Ensign Pond Road — intersect at the bridge.
“The logistics of replacing that bridge while maintaining a flow of traffic are challenging,” the supervisor said.
Placing a temporary span at the site while the Moriah Center Bridge is being replaced is crucial, Scozzafava said.
“If you simply close that bridge it would be devastating to the people who use it and the businesses in the area,” he said.