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Otis Bridge to be replaced

ELIZABETHTOWN The Essex County Board of Supervisors voted Feb. 5 to replace the Otis Lane Bridge despite opposition from several nearby landowners. At its regular meeting Feb 5, the county board agreed to replace the bridge with a new structure that carries 40 tons for an amount not to exceed $450,000. Wilmington Supervisor Jeanne Ashworth was against the move, asking for information on renovating the current bridge to carry 15 tons, which would be enough to carry an ambulance. Elizabethtown Supervisor and Board Chairman Noel Merrihew said preliminary reports had shown the cost of renovating the bridge would be twice as much as replacing it. Merrihew said the Elizabethtown town board had been working on the issue since 2003, and felt it was time to go ahead with the replacement. The replacement was mandated by the state, since the current structure can only support three tons. The Otis Mountain Camp and Homeowners Association opposes the replacement, citing the historic nature of the 90-year-old pony truss bridge. The group has made several efforts to preserve the structure. I am really having a great reluctance in supporting this. Im very disappointed in how this whole thing has been handled, said Lewis Supervisor Anthony Glebus. Glebus questioned the price, pointing out the number originally discussed was $300,000. Essex County Superintendent of Public Works Fred Buck said he hoped to have the bridge repaired for $300,000. Some supervisors, Crown Point Supervisor Dale French and Jay Supervisor Randy Douglas, said the county should follow the towns decision. Douglas added that after experiencing 25 years of debate over Jays covered bridge project, it would be best not to second-guess the town. The town of Elizabethtown submitted a unanimous decision from the town. It would be unjust for us to overrule the decision, said Douglas. The board passed the resolution, with Supervisors Gerald Morrow (Chesterfield), Glebus, Daniel Connell (Westport) and Ashworth voting against it.

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