APA grants permit for Westport road

WESTPORT - The town of Westport is moving forward after receiving approval from the Adirondack Park Agency for its latest road project.

Supervisor Dan Connell said that construction on a section of Merriam Forge Road will begin shortly, now that the APA has granted a permit.

The road, which overlooks the banks of the Boquet River near Wadhams, had been reduced to one lane of traffic after part of the river embankment washed out. Town officials considered the narrow road next to a steep drop-off a safety concern.

Engineers ultimately determined that moving the section of road further back from the river would be the best - and cheapest - solution. Since moving the road involved an exchange of land within the 150-foot setback from the river, APA approval was needed.

The town initially submitted its application in September, but the APA returned it as incomplete, indicating that a variance would be needed since the project involved new land use within the 150-foot setback from the river.

After the town submitted more information, the agency ultimately granted the permit on Dec. 5 without requiring a variance, however.

"The APA did not require a variance because the permitted project is merely the replacement of a pre-existing road in essentially the same location," APA spokesman Keith McKeever said.

"We're very pleased with the time frame," said Connell, noting approval of the permit application took just a few weeks. "Once they deemed the application complete, it was a very smooth process."

The Federal Emergency Management Agency has since agreed to reallocate funding to assist the town in the cost of construction.

Connell said the town had hoped to begin construction on the road by Dec. 17. With the permit in hand and bidding for the project completed, he expects work to begin Dec. 18.

In addition to the road being moved, the nearby intersection will be paved in spring of 2009. Connell said the improvement will provide added safety for motorists.

"APA staff worked efficiently to help resolve an important local infrastructure project for the town of Westport," McKeever said.

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