Joining Saratoga County and the neighboring Town of Malta, Saratoga Springs approved a resolution Tuesday night to ask the State Department of Transportation to reconsider a proposal to close the Nelson Avenue Extension Bridge, which the agency calls costly to maintain.
The vote by the city council follows weeks of protest from local residents who say the bridge is vital to neighbors and businesses.
Suzanne Balet Haight and her family have led a push that included petitions against the bridge’s closure.
“People have built their lives around knowing the traffic patterns of this area. Whether it’s a business; the Saratoga Lake Sailing Club, Saratoga Lake Association…bicyclists; I think that people are very concerned and we’re hoping the state will reconsider and replace this bridge,” said Haight.
The current two-lane span was built in the 1960s but the route leading into the city dates back to the 1860s.
DOT says the bridge serves 440 vehicles a day and would cost $5.5 million to replace. The state is considering closing it and replacing the nearby Crescent Avenue bridge.
City Public Safety Commissioner Chris Mathiesen said he was concerned about the cost of upgrades to the existing Kaydeross Ave East if the Nelson Ave. Bridge is shut down.
“I think by the time you’re finished investing in that road, you may end up spending a lot more on that road than it would be to replace the bridge, and who is paying for that? Is it the city, the county, the state, I don’t know,” said Mathiesen.
Saratoga Springs Public Works Commissioner Anthony “Skip” Scirocco introduced the resolution asking the state to keep the bridge open.
“The city council implores the New York State Department of Transportation to close the Nelson Ave. Extension bridge and recognizes that any bridge crossing the Adirondack Northway in or adjacent to the City of Saratoga Springs provide vital access to services for residents of the city and Saratoga County. Additionally, the council requests that the bridge not be closed and replaced using current bridge construction standards,” read Scirocco.
The measure also authorizes the mayor to submit the resolution to the DOT. Mayor Joanne Yepsen said she planned to meet with the DOT Thursday morning.
“So far our conversations on the phone have been seeming to be open to taking another look at this,” said Yepsen.
DOT spokesman Bryan Viggiani said in an email that no decision has been made on the fate of the bridge. The state aims to hold a public meeting on its proposals this fall.