SARANAC LAKE - The state Department of Transportation has confirmed that the pedestrian bridge over LaPan Highway won't be replaced until the spring.
DOT officials issued a press release Tuesday announcing that the agency is seeking public comment on its proposal to replace the bridge's center span, which was demolished Aug. 31. DOT officials decided to tear down the bridge after determining that the cables that were supporting it had been compromised when it was hit, for the second time in roughly a year, by a piece of heavy equipment being towed on a trailer.
The bridge had been used heavily by students to get back and forth between the French Hill neighborhood and Petrova Elementary and the Saranac Lake Middle School. It was closed to pedestrian use in September 2011, after the first time it was struck, and a temporary pedestrian crossing was set up at the intersection of Dorsey Street and LaPan Highway.
DOT recently installed push-button pedestrian beacons at the new Dorsey Street crosswalk, but school officials and village police have remained concerned about the safety of students and other people trying to get across the busy highway.
The release says DOT is in the scoping and preliminary engineering phases of its plan to replace the bridge with a "pre-stressed concrete slab span which will allow the bridge to reopen to pedestrian traffic.
"The new span is being designed to provide additional vertical clearance over state Route 3 to minimize the potential for future impacts while maintaining the existing width and similar visual characteristics," the release says.
DOT officials had initially hoped to replace the bridge this fall, but hinted in late August that the project could be pushed back to the spring. The release says design approval will be obtained this fall, with bidding and construction expected in the spring of 2013.
Public comments on the project must be submitted by Oct. 19. Questions and comments can be mailed to Mihai B. Bica, project manager, New York State Department of Transportation, Region 7 Planning, 317 Washington St., Watertown, NY 13601, or emailed to Mihai.Bica@dot.ny.gov.