The eight-year fight to replace the aged Otis bridge, carrying Otis Lane over the Boquet River just south of Elizabethtown, is finally nearing an end.
The new span — which cost the county $250,000 — will be rated for loads of up to 40 tons, where the old 1914 Otis Bridge was only rated for three tons, making it impassable to emergency vehicles and log trucks.
County leaders, to their credit, stepped to the plate and addressed this public safety issue.
But did they need to spend taxpayer dollars to relocate the old rusted bridge to the Essex County Fairgrounds where it will be used as a footbridge? There are a lot of aged historic structures owned by the county — the old county jail is one example. Should they all be transported to the county fairground for the sake of posterity?
With the price of iron near historic levels, wouldn’t the old bridge have significant salvage value?
And, while the bridge was listed on the National Inventory for Historic Bridges, let’s be realistic — the span has little historic significance. The covered bridge in Jay has historical significance. The old Lake Champlain bridge that was blown to smithereens had historical significance. This rusted old tangle of iron does not.
So why spend the money to move it to Westport so a few fairgoers can us it as a catchall for discarded fried dough and half eaten corn dogs?
Then, to add insult to injury, the old bridge got stuck at the traffic light in Elizabethtown Feb. 7 en route to the county fairgrounds, holding up morning commuters for nearly 20 minutes.
It seems making a 45-degree turn with a 40-foot bridge is no simple task — especially during rush hour. It got stuck again in the S-turns just past the Elizabethtown Library leaving town. Was this headache really warranted?