FRANKLIN FALLS - Residents who live east of the bridge at Franklin Falls may have a longer commute, depending on where they work, starting July 29.
That's when the Franklin County-owned bridge that spans the Saranac River will be closed to all traffic so it can be replaced. The closure is expected to last roughly two-and-a-half to three weeks.
Work on the bridge has already started, according to county Highway Superintendent Jonathan Hutchins.
Work is already underway on replacement of the bridge at Franklin Falls, seen here Monday.
(Enterprise photo — Chris Knight)
"They're doing the drilling of the pilings right now," Hutchins said Monday. "The actual shutdown, tentatively it's set for the 29th of July."
The shutdown is expected to last 19 days.
Friend Commercial Contracting, based in Malone, is handling the $1.5 million project. Crews will work weekends to get the new bridge in place so the road can be reopened as soon as possible, Hutchins said.
He said he doesn't expect it to be a major inconvenience, as car counts showed the bridge is only used about 200 times a day.
"School's out, so that's why we planned to do it now," Hutchins said. "It also would have cost three-quarters of a million dollars to put a temporary bridge in, and the state wasn't going to give us any money. It'll be an inconvenience for three weeks, but that's minute compared to if we had to shut (the bridge) down because the county can't afford (to replace) it."
Town of Franklin Supervisor Art Willman said he thinks most people will be able to deal with the closure of the bridge.
"It's a hell of a detour, no matter which way you go," Willman said. "People who want to get in Saranac Lake, they'll have to go through Wilmington. If they're going to Plattsburgh, they'll have to go out the Silver Lake Road. But I don't think a tremendous amount of people are really, truly going to be affected. It's 19 days. It's not like it's forever. It's a hell of a lot better than if that bridge got closed, period."
Willman said the county has been in touch with local fire departments and rescue squads to advise them of the bridge closure.