TO: Batchellerville Bridge Action Committee Members
FROM: Peter VanAvery
DATE: April 7, 2007

Reminder: The public hearing on the Batchellerville Bridge Replacement Project will be held at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, April 24, at Northville Central School, 131 South Third Street, Northville, N.Y. This massive concrete-and-steel structure, stretching 3,100 feet across the lake, will be with us for the next 50 years. You will have 3 minutes at the mike.

If you can't make the April 24 public hearing (and even if you can), send written comments to: Erica Rousseau, P.E., Project Manager, NYS Department of Transportation, 328 State Street, Schenectady, NY 12305. Her telephone number is 518-388-0225. Deadline: May 4, 2007.

You can assume that owners of the lake's tallest sailboats (all 37 of them) want the highest design option: a 63-foot-high bridge with a vertical clearance underneath of 55 feet. This would elevate County Route 98 up to the tips of the lamp posts on the present bridge. So you want to push for the lowest option: a 43-foot-high bridge with a 35-foot vertical clearance.

Send copies of your letter to Astrid C. Glyn, Commissioner, NYS Department of Transportation, 50 Wolf Road, Albany, NY 12232 and to Gov. Eliot Spitzer, State Capitol, Albany, NY 12224. (On the Internet: go to Then click on "Contact the Governor.")

CORRECTION: Although I usually hate to admit I made a mistake, here's a correction Iím delighted to place on the record. I've been saying that 70 percent of Great Sacandaga's water surface occurs south of the bridge. On the basis of a fact-finding trip I made this morning to DOT's Region 1 HQ in Schenectady, I now know that the correct figure is 80 percent. This means that owners of the tallest sailboats already have most of the lake at their disposal.

Here are more answers to frequently asked questions about the bridge:

QUESTION: Back in 2002, DOT said that the compromise design (a 50-foot-high central span with a vertical clearance of 42 feet) would allow 77 percent of the lake's sailboats to pass underneath. Is this still accurate?

ANSWER: Absolutely not. In 2002, DOT counted 163 sailboats on the lake. In 2004, a BBAC survey found that the sailboat population had more than doubled to 357. That's impressive growth, and it has no doubt continued. Nearly all this growth has been in sailboat sizes that would fit under the compromise design (which would handle sailboats as tall as a 4-story building). Today, about 90 percent of the lake's sailboats could fit under the compromise design.

QUESTION: Some sailboaters claim that the bridge denies them access to half the lake. True?

ANSWER: The bridge is located at about the midpoint of the 29-mile-long lake. However, the lake's water surface is unevenly distributed. About 80 percent of the water surface occurs south of the bridge, where the lake's tallest sailboats have historically been docked. That's where the lake is widest, giving them plenty of sailing room. In fact, you seldom see a tall sailboat in the narrow neck of the lake where the bridge is located.

QUESTION: After DOT announced its compromise bridge design in 2002, the Fulton County Regional Chamber of Commerce and the Fulton County Board of Supervisors urged the state to conduct an economic impact study on a still higher structure that would elevate County Route 98 up to the tips of the lamp posts on the existing bridge. Do you believe that our gem of an Adirondack lake exists to allow Fulton County businesses to make a fast buck?

ANSWER: Absolutely not! Some sailboaters clamoring for an economic impact study are not even property owners on the lake. What is amusing is that while sailboaters like to pose as eco-friendly, some are -- for their own selfish reasons -- in favor of a high arched bridge that is obviously hostile to the environment. What is not amusing is that this high bridge also would be unsafe to cross in slippery winter weather by my family, friends, and neighbors.

The 2002 vote by the Fulton County Board of Supervisors was not unanimous. Economic impact studies are notorious for being biased and inflated in favor of their sponsor. Obviously, some supervisors also were concerned about the possibility of a backlash from the tens of thousands of people who drive across that bridge and the thousands who have paid a premium (plus high taxes) for lake property. People say that if each angry family cut its expenditures in Fulton County by as little as $1,000 per year, the total loss to the county would amount to millions. Merchants in neighboring counties would be delighted to pick up the business.

QUESTION: Some sailboaters argue that the bridge should be still higher because water levels have been higher since the Federal Government issued a new license on the reservoir in 2002. What do you think of that?

ANSWER: When you look at the reservoir's daily water-level statistics, that argument does not hold up. The water-level provisions of the new Federal license went into effect on July 1, 2002. That summer, the level FELL so fast that many boaters (not just sailboaters) had to haul out their boats well before the end of the season. In 2003, 2004, and 2005, the lake was below 768 (the point at which it is considered full) from July 1 through October 31. In 2006, the lake was high -- no argument here. But one year's heavy precipitation does not signal a permanent change in climate.

Here's another BBAC exclusive: Although DOT has not announced it yet, the agency is preparing a Batchellerville Bridge web page. You'll find it at

The next regular meeting of the Board of the Hudson River-Black River Regulating District will be held at 10:00 a.m. on Thursday, April 12, at the Department of Environmental Conservation's Warrensburg Office, 232 Golf Course Road, Warrensburg, NY.

The lake's water level is at 757.9 -- 6.5 feet above target.