Keene Valley Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Joe Martens was in Keene Feb. 2, to see what had been done to help the bridge that was over troubled waters during Tropical Storm Irene.
Martens was joined by state and local dignitaries as he toured work done near the Johns Brook bridge in the hamlet, where engineers created an hour-glass type formation out of rocks to help relieve pressure in the brook.
“We put in a structure that will redirect the energy of the stream long term,” Regional Fisheries Manager Bill Shoch said during the tour. “We put a rock back in that reshapes the river. Before, the energy of the water was focused on the bridge, and with this design, it is now forced into the middle of the stream.”
Shoch said that before the new design in the waterway, the bridge collected sediment which would now be dissipated, sparing the bridge in the case of another major flood.
“I certainly hope that we can continue to do projects like this with the people who are over other projects in local streams and rivers,” Shoch said.
“This is a great story that has been built out of the disaster and tragedy,” Martens said. “What we are doing with these projects is not an exact science, but there are a lot of lessons that we have learned through this and a lot of resources are now getting put into resolving the problem.”
Martens talked about state government funding which was becoming available for flood relief, including a $21 million grant program through the Business Flood Recovery Grant Program and $9 million through the Flood Mitigation Grant Program.
The first will be administered by Empire State Development, while the latter is administered by both ESD and DEC.
“We are trying to keep the requirements to a minimum so we can see how the access works,” Martens said. “There has been unprecedented cooperation between all levels of government through this entire process, from local government all the way through FEMA.”
“Now we see what we have done and we have a blueprint for the next time this happens,” Keene Supervisor William “Bill” Ferebee said.
“The resources that they have provided have been phenomenal,” Jay Supervisor and Essex County Board Chair Randall “Randy” Douglas said. “All of the players that were part of this and came together to help the North Country has never been done before.”