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  • Aaron Keller
    [Source: The Daily Gazette Online, www.dailygazette.com September 27, 2000] ... Batchellerville Bridge plan sparks debate Proponents, critics prepare for
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 27, 2000
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      [Source: The Daily Gazette Online, www.dailygazette.com September 27,
      2000]
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      Batchellerville Bridge plan sparks debate
      Proponents, critics prepare for meeting
      By JIM McGUIRE
      Gazette Reporter

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      EDINBURG - There is no disputing the 70-year-old Batchellerville Bridge
      needs to be replaced. But, there is also no unanimity over what that new
      bridge should look like.
      The state Department of Transportation has proposed a $35 million version
      that features a 55-foot center span to accommodate large sailboats. While
      some local residents and officials support the plan, critics feel the
      structure would be unnecessarily tall and expensive.

      The two sides in this dispute will gather at 10 a.m. Saturday at Edinburg
      Town Hall to try to influence the final design of the 3,000-foot bridge,
      said to be longest in upstate New York.

      The existing bridge is narrow, flat and open and provides clearance at high
      water of 20 feet or less. DOT Engineer Gary Hodges said the clearance can be
      as little as eight feet depending on water levels.

      It is the only lifeline across the 29-mile lake, connecting not only the
      north and south shores but also the northern and southern portions of the
      Saratoga County town of Edinburg. The 15-ton weight limit DOT imposed on the
      deteriorating bridge a number of years ago has created great hardship for
      Edinburg, and other neighboring towns, which must now send their highway
      department trucks on a 35 mile journey - to either end of the lake where
      there are bridges across the Sacandaga River.

      Calling the bridge a "vital lifeline for the community," Edinburg Supervisor
      Jean Raymond said the project is "a real public safety issue."

      There is also the recreation issue, which is coupled with local economic
      health.

      Proponents of the DOT proposal contend the existing bridge offers minimal
      clearance at high water, effectively fencing off about half the 29-mile lake
      to all but the smallest sailboats.

      "Right now," said Raymond, "even a Hobie Cat [a modest sized catamaran]
      can't go under the bridge at high water."

      The opponents, rallied by Schenectady resident Peter Van Avery, whose summer
      home is located near the bridge, insist the DOT proposal is expensive and
      with its high center span will blight the landscape while generating noise
      pollution.

      Van Avery said he has asked for statistics on the number of large sailboats
      on the lake. But DOT nor anyone else can provide an estimate, Van Avery
      said. About 35 skippers entered this past summer's annual sailing regatta,
      Van Avery said.

      Financing for the project is included in the proposed state bond act, a
      referendum item on the November ballot. If approved by voters, construction
      could start in 2004, officials said. Construction, which is expected to take
      two to three years, would be adjacent to the existing bridge, allowing the
      latter to continue operation until no longer needed.

      Van Avery and other residents want a sidewalk on the new bridge, which DOT
      estimates will cost an additional $2 million while creating expensive winter
      maintenance problems.


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