By LOHR McKINSTRY, Press-Republican
---- — MORIAH — The high-traffic Moriah Center Bridge closed for repairs Monday morning, forcing drivers to detour on twisty and narrow local roads.
The shutdown of the 5,000-vehicle-a-day span means a car detour on Titus Road, which is considered too tortuous for big trucks.
The truck detour is on Route 9N/22 and Pelfershire Road.
The bridge was closed for emergency repairs after a State Department of Transportation inspection earlier this month reduced its weight limit to 5 tons, which barred school buses, fire engines and heavy trucks from crossing it.
Moriah Town Supervisor Thomas Scozzafava said the closure is to replace the wooden deck and some support girders to bring the weight limit back up.
“They say it’s closed until Friday, but I hope they can reopen it before that,” he said. “That’s an important connector for our town.”
The bridge connects the hamlets of Mineville and Witherbee with the rest of the town and is the main route for traffic off the Adirondack Northway headed for Vermont or the Lake Champlain region.
The repairs are being done by the Essex County Department of Public Works, with additional support from A.P. Reale Construction of Chilson.
County Department of Public Works Superintendent Anthony LaVigne got approval from the County Board of Supervisors last week for $70,000 in emergency repairs.
He said the repairs had to be done before Moriah Central School classes start in September or student bus routes would be thrown into chaos.
The bridge over Mill Brook had already been slated for replacement in spring 2013. A temporary Mabey bridge was considered at one point, but LaVigne said it was better to repair the existing bridge.
TRUCK ROUTE 10 MILES
The car detour only takes motorists a couple of miles out of their way, but the alternate truck route is about 10 miles longer.
Scozzafava said motorists have to slow down on the detours, since children may be used to playing on remote roads that normally get little traffic.
“All of a sudden, there are lines of cars going past houses where they rarely saw a car. We want to make sure our residents who live on those roads are safe.”
Moriah Town Police will be asked to monitor the detours, he said.
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