The New York State Department of Transportation has tentative plans to remove the bridge on Nelson Avenue Extension that goes over the Northway due to its deteriorating condition and what DOT considers to be its light usage. A spokesman for DOT, noting the increasing cost of maintaining the bridge, indicated that no firm decision has been made yet. There will be a public meeting to address the issue in September.
Replacing the bridge is estimated to cost $5.5 million.
DOT estimates that 440 vehicles cross the bridge a day although local residents say this does not take into account seasonal increases in traffic. DOT contrasts this with 2,200 that use the Crescent Street Bridge several miles north.
Residents have organized to try to save this bridge. They note that this corridor has existed for over one hundred years and predated the Northway which was built in the 1960s.
It is a popular venue for bicyclists who want to avoid Route 9. The Saraoga Lions Duathlon and the Annual Team Billy Ride and Walk for Research and Tour de Cure, as well as weekly rides originating at Blue Sky Bicycles all utilize the bridge.
There are a number of businesses that will be adversely impacted.
According to a pamphlet put out by the organizers, If the bridge is closed, the alternate route would be Kaydeross Avenue East. It is a winding road with no bicycle lane, small shoulders, limited sightlines and wetlands on both sides.
Chris Morrell, vice president of the Matla Ridge Fire Company is quoted in a front page story in the Gazette as opposing the plan arguing that it is a matter of safety.
Earlier this month at a Saratoga Springs City Council meeting, Commissioners Scirocco and Mathiesen expressed support to keep the bridge open. In an email to DOT, Commissioner Mathiesen noted that “Many property owners as well as city, town, and county officials made decisions on land investment and use based on the continued availability of this access. Fire, emergency services, police, and inter-municipal mutual aid resources will be hindered significantly by the loss of that Northway overpass. This is an example of the state turning its back on a commitment to our community that was made over 50 years ago.
If you would like to support the bridge, there is an on line petition at https://www.change.org/p/save-the-bridge-on-nelson-ave-ext-over-northway.
The issue will be taken up at Monday night’s Malta Town Board Meeting and Tuesday night’s Saratoga Springs City Council meeting.