Saratoga County bridge projects ahead of schedule

Rising waters in Great Sacandaga Lake this weekend flooded the cofferdams at the Batchellerville Bri

Rising waters in Great Sacandaga Lake this weekend flooded the cofferdams at the Batchellerville Bridge construction site in Edinburg, causing a temporary setback in the project.

Even so, the massive bridge project is months ahead of schedule, according to a state transportation engineer.

The Route 9P bridge replacement project at Saratoga Lake, meanwhile, remains on schedule for a Memorial Day weekend opening, a state Department of Transportation spokeswoman said.

The cofferdams at Batchellerville flooded Saturday.

Cofferdams are temporary structures sunk into the lake bottom so the enclosed area can be pumped dry for construction activities such as pouring cement piers.

Great Sacandaga Lake has risen steadily for the past two weeks, as snowmelt in its southern Adirondack watershed has continued. Regulators weren’t releasing water from its dam to prevent flooding farther downstream.

The lake on Monday was higher than 770 feet above sea level, its highest level in three years. The lake is considered full at 768 feet; the flooded cofferdams top out at 769 feet.

The Hudson River-Black River Regulating District is now releasing water at the Conklinville Dam to keep the lake — really a flood-control reservoir — from rising further. Its dam overflows at 771 feet.

The lake has been this high before, but this year it’s a problem for the contractors working on the $46.6 million Batchellerville Bridge replacement.

“At this moment the lake is so high all our cofferdams are flooded,” said Mike Gray, a state DOT construction supervisor.

He estimated it may be two weeks before the lake level drops enough that the cofferdams can be pumped out.

The new bridge will have 12 cement piers in the lake. So far, two are nearly finished, two are completed to above the waterline and three are in stages where cofferdams are in use. Work on the bridge started last summer after federal funding for the long-delayed project was secured.

General contractor Harrison & Burrowes of Glenmont worked through the winter and was gearing up for its first full construction season. It had 30 to 40 workers on the project last week but has reduced the work force to about half that until the cofferdams can be cleared, Gray said.

Until the cofferdams are pumped out, Gray said, Harrison & Burrowes will work on the other piers and start on the bridge’s eastern abutment. The western abutment is already mostly done.

Overall, the replacement for the deteriorated, 3,078-foot, 81-year-old bridge is months ahead of schedule. The new bridge could be open by the summer of 2013, though the official completion date isn’t until November, Gray said.

The work is ahead of schedule in part because the contractor was able to continue doing pier work through the winter.

In the coming construction season, work will focus on building the rest of the piers.

“The contractor’s goal right now is to have all the piers complete by late fall so they can begin accepting structural steel and start installing structural steel in the late fall,” Gray said.

Edinburg Supervisor Jean Raymond said town residents are generally happy with the progress of the bridge, which links the two halves of the town separated by the lake. Photos of the work progress are being added regularly to the town website.

“I’m thrilled with what they’ve done so far,” Raymond said. “Even with the setback at the moment, they have made incredible progress. They have gotten themselves some leeway if they do have delays.”

Raymond said the high lake level this week isn’t a surprise given the heavy winter snowfall.

“This has been an incredible winter,” she said. “There’s probably more water and snowpack than at any time in 20 years.”

Mike Clark, acting executive director of the Hudson River-Black River Regulating District, said the district is now releasing about 7,000 cubic yards of water per second from the lake.

It hadn’t been releasing water until this weekend because water levels in the Hudson River had been too high because of snowmelt and rain in the Hudson’s watershed.

“We’re going to stay at elevated levels for at least a week,” Clark said. “We are still receiving snowmelt. We’re glad all the snowmelt didn’t come at once.”

Meanwhile, DOT officials reported that the other big bridge project in Saratoga County, replacement of the Route 9P bridge over Fish Creek in Saratoga Springs, is on schedule.

The bridge, out since last Labor Day, is scheduled to reopen by Memorial Day, now just five weeks away.

The span itself is in place and contractors last week poured the cement for the bridge deck, said DOT regional spokeswoman Carol Breen.

“There’s still a lot of concrete work to be done,” she said. “There are going to be sidewalks on both sides of the bridge, curbs and approaches to the bridge.”

Bridge railings, drainage work and the surfacing of the road also remain to be done under the $10.8 million contract with Kubricky Construction of Queensbury.

Much depends on the April showers giving way, though.

“They’re on schedule. Rain is not your friend when you’re pouring concrete, but we’re hoping it doesn’t become an issue,” Breen said.

Categories: Schenectady County

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