A full year ahead of schedule, the new Batchellerville Bridge spanning the Great Sacandaga Lake is open to traffic. YNN's Matt Hunter has more on what that means for the community.
BATCHELERVILLE, N.Y. – Longtime owners of a camp on the Great Sacandaga Lake, Leslie Edwards and his wife have kept a watchful eye on the now complete construction of the new Batchellerville Bridge.
"In fact we drove all the way over from Lake George today just to ride over the bridge and see what it was like," Edwards said on Friday. "It looks great, it looks really nice. Our camp looks right over it so we see it while we're at the camp."
The Edwards were among the earliest drivers to cross the new $46.7 million bridge, which opened to traffic Thursday and replaces the 80-year-old original bridge, which still stands right next to the new structure.
Most impressive, construction was completed a full year ahead of schedule.
"It's due to an aggressive work schedule by the contractor and last year's easy winter, comparative obviously, and that all contributed to being able to open a year early," said Bryan Viggiani, a spokesperson for the New York State Department of Transportation.
Since construction began in 2010, traffic on the old bridge was limited to one way and restricted to vehicles lighter than five tons, creating headaches for first responders and business owners.
"It was the inconvenience of waiting for that light, actually," Edinburg resident Mike Sindoni said.
"It's a lot easier,” Edinburg Town Highway Superintendent Wayne Seelow said. “Now the log trucks and stuff, they can come across the bridge, they don't have to go 30 minutes out of the way, 30 miles. We had one last night, a tanker truck delivering a load of gas. He was the first across it and it saved him an hour."
The full project will be complete by next fall when the old bridge is taken down, completely restoring a route locals have relied on for years.
"That will probably increase the traffic for the local small businesses," Edwards said.
80 percent of the project was paid for with federal funds with New York State covering the remaining costs.