DAILY GAZETTE
Schenectady, NY
November 3, 2006

LETTER TO THE EDITOR

New Batchellerville Bridge welcome, but not one so high!

In 2009, at a cost of $40 million, the state will begin construction of a new Batchellerville Bridge across Great Sacandaga Lake at Edinburg. It's about time!

But the downside is that the Department of Transportation has revoked its 2002 compromise design that called for a span with a vertical clearance of 42 feet out at its center. Instead, it wants to return to the drawing board.

From 1999 to 2001, DOT tried every trick in the book to slip the highest possible design past the lake's stakeholders. What DOT wants is a structure that would elevate Saratoga County Road 98 up to the tips of the lampposts on the existing bridge- nearly twice as high as it is now. The new bridge's lampposts and railing would jut upward from there. The cumulative effect would be the destruction of one of the most beautiful vistas in the Adirondack Park.

During this time, DOT solicited comments on designs with vertical clearances ranging from 35 to 55 feet - although it was clear that the agency favored the latter. Required by law to hold two public meetings, DOT designed them to convey as little information as possible. And the second was scheduled for several weeks after Labor Day, when most seasonal property owners would no longer be in the area. We yelled cover-up and turned out a large crowd that forced DOT to schedule a full-fledged public hearing during the summer of 2001.

At that meeting, supporters of a low replacement bridge far outnumbered supporters of the highest option. DOT announced the compromise design the following year, and it was approved by the Saratoga County Board of Supervisors. It would allow most of the lake's sailboats to pass underneath. Owners of the largest sailboats, who already have 70 percent of the lake's surface to sail on and who seldom venture up the narrow neck of the lake on which the bridge is located, can trade down to slightly smaller craft if they really want to pass underneath.

Now, DOT wants still another public hearing, this time in late winter or early spring - again when seasonal residents are absent. This is unacceptable. Fortunately, in just two months, the state will have a new governor and DOT a new chairman. The Batchellerville Bridge Action Committee will fight to persuade them to reverse this DOT double-cross.

PETER VAN AVERY
Edinburg