Keene The bridge connecting the community of Keene to the new Veterans Memorial Park and the Keene Town Cemetery will be replaced as part of an Essex County Bridge bond.
The county Board of Supervisors approved adding the project to replace the Keene Cemetery Lane Bridge to a bridge bond not to exceed $4.5 million.
“That is an important bridge even though it does not serve a huge number of vehicles,” Keene Supervisor William Ferebee said.
Currently, the bridge serves as the only access point to the cemetery and memorial and connects with Route 22 off of Spruce Hill.
A second access point on Route 73 closer to the hamlet was closed years ago for safety reasons.
“We had a service at the cemetery the other day and there were about 50 cars there,” Ferebee said. “To put those cars out onto Route 73 where the cars are coming by at 50-60 mph is not safe. You are talking about a corridor that has over one million cars a year coming through it, and many of them do not know the area which could cause problems if you opened that part of Cemetery Lane up again.”
Ferebee said that the Route 73 access point was also closed because of erosion along the hill where it is located.
“There is a new slide there right now and if you were to reopen that point and the slide continues, then you would have no road on one end and no bridge on the other,” Ferebee said. “It is a wise choice to include this bridge as part of the bond.”
Ferebee said that members of the local veterans organizations had also approached him about making sure the bridge would be able to be part of the counties’ bond.
“The new Veterans Park serves as a memorial site and it is where we hold our annual Memorial Day services, so they were concerned what would happen if the bridge was not replaced,” Ferebee said.
Currently, the bridge has a weight limit restriction, but has been red-flagged, meaning it needs to be repaired or replaced.