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Adams residents lobby county to repair bridge

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A bridge on North Harbor Road in the town of Adams has been closed since last summer, effectively cutting residents off from easy access to Interstate 81.

Rumors of it remaining closed led a delegation of town residents to a Jefferson County Board of Legislators meeting Tuesday night to ask the county to re-prioritize its repair, which is projected to cost $300,000.

“Let's find some money and get this thing opened back up,” said Adams Town Councilman George E. Moulton at the meeting.

The bridge sits at the northern bend of North Harbor Road, where it intersects with Kellogg Road. A right turn at the intersection leads to I-81 at interchange 43.

With the bridge closed, residents have to drive down to interchange 42 on South Harbor Road, which is part of New York State Route 177 — a round-trip distance of six miles every day.

“Gas adds up,” Mr. Moulton said.

Mr. Moulton said that he had spoken to the 14 homeowners who live on the portion of North Harbor Road affected; 12 of them are very concerned about the bridge being closed and would like it repaired.

Two homeowners who live on the “upper end” of the road, closer to South Harbor Road, are not as concerned about the closure, according to Mr. Moulton.

Sarah E. Howard, who lives with her husband and two children in a house just past the closed bridge, said the detour takes her an extra five minutes during daily travel.

“It's not that much, but if you're doing it everyday it gets a bit old,” she said, noting that her husband doesn't want the bridge fixed because he likes the quiet.

Mrs. Howard said that if officials spoke with all the residents of the area, they would hear “both sides of the story.”

But convenience is only part of the equation.

The Route 177/South Harbor Road bridge over I-81 has been hit by tractor-trailer trucks three times in the last two years and the state has threatened to close it if it gets hit again, Mr. Moulton said.

It is already down to one lane with a traffic light.

If something were to happen to that bridge, the route for Adams emergency responders would be Route 11 to Michael Road to Greene Settlement Road, which is directly across from North Harbor Road — a distance of at least eight miles.

“Our biggest concern is public safety,” said Town Supervisor David W. Kellogg, who was also at the meeting. “Especially if the bridge gets shut down.”

Ronald C. Aten, of Adams Center, spoke at the meeting as well, saying that he would like to see the bridge repaired.

Other residents in attendance did not speak and left as a group after the public petition portion of the meeting concluded.

“Sometimes that squeaky wheel needs to get greased,” said county Legislator Michael W. Behling, R-Adams. ”With people coming to the meeting, that wheel's starting to squeak.”

James L. Lawrence, Jefferson County Highway Superintendent, said that funds for the project were originally included in the county's 2013 budget but were later removed.

With the county set to receive an estimated additional $560,000 in CHIPs funding from the state, the project has been put back on the list and the county is pursuing it on an “aggressive schedule” according to Mr. Lawrence.

The project will have to be approved by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the state Department of Environmental Conservation because the bridge goes over a protected stream.

Once permits are secured, work should begin early this fall and be completed within two months, Mr. Lawrence said.

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