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Eel Weir Road Bridge needs to be replaced

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HEUVELTON — The St. Lawrence County Highway Department is on the hunt for funds to replace the County Route 4 bridge at Eel Weir in the town of Oswegatchie.

County Highway Superintendent Toby W. Bogart said Wednesday that the 53-year-old, 270-foot-long steel span across the Oswegatchie River is too corroded and not sturdy enough to support loads of more than 20 tons. The new bridge’s capacity will be 70 to 75 tons.

Mr. Bogart said one source of funding for the $5.8 million project already has fallen through — the state’s Strategic Transportation Enhancement Program. He has begun to look elsewhere, including the New York Works grant program. Given the time required for the approved funding cycles of these programs, he said, it will be at the earliest a 2015 project.

The bridge was closed for two weeks last summer for repairs and weight capacity adjustments. The new bridge will have a concrete deck that will be wider to accommodate snowmobile traffic, pedestrians, bicycle riders and anglers.

Mr. Bogart said it is too soon to assume that detours will be required or know whether a temporary bridge will be installed while the old one is being dismantled and a new bridge is built to take its place.

A temporary bridge, Mr. Bogart said, could add more than $1 million to the project’s cost.

“There’s no guarantee of that,” he said.

Like most bridges, the Eel Weir Road span is significantly located. Eel Weir State Park is close by and the road itself is busy with motor vehicle, farm and Amish traffic.

The lack of a temporary bridge during construction would require motorists to take detours. Mr. Bogart said the shortest detour from one side of the bridge to the other is going north to Ogdensburg via Lost Village Road and County Route 6, then back on Route 812.

The southern detour route through Edwardsville is 32 miles.

The new bridge, Mr. Bogart said, would have an expected life of 75 years.

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