MALONE – The pavement on Brainardsville Road is cracked from hundreds of truck trips made to wind-farm projects in western Clinton and eastern Franklin counties.
The damage is especially irritating in Franklin County because not only were the bridges replaced, but the entire length of Brainardsville Road from Malone to Ellenburg was widened and resurfaced as part of a $12 million state project in 2000 and 2001.
One option suggested is posting a weight limit on county-owned roads, so the heavily loaded dump trucks would be forced to use U.S. Route 11, which is maintained, repaired and paid for by the state, rather than by local taxes.
At the same time, County Highway Superintendent Gary Lewis wants compensation for the estimated $50,000 in damage already sustained on the Brainardsville Road, also known as County Road 24.
And he wants a pending agreement for highway usage between Noble Environmental Power and the county to include language to mitigate the existing problems and cover future highway damages and degradation.
CLINTON COUNTY PACT
Route 24 is the shortest path that gravel and cement tracks take from Malone to Ellenburg and into Clinton County, where Noble Clinton Windpark I, Windpark II, Windpark Ellenburg, Windpark Altona and Windpark Clinton are being constructed.
The same road is used to reach Noble Chateaugay Windpark and Noble Bellmont Windpark in Franklin County.
And it would be utilized in the future by Horizon Wind Energy if that company makes a formal application to the Town of Bellmont for a wind-farm site and gets approval.
Clinton County’s agreement with Noble designates which roads can be used, what compensation the county would get for use of those roads and the type of reconstruction each would get to make them whole again.
A complicated formula pays the county more that $50,000 per mile in compensation or a lump sum of $493,650.
Franklin County hopes to ink a similar deal.
But until those negotiations are held, legislators want some money set aside now to fix the Brainardsville Road problems.
If they can’t get satisfaction, the county might start posting roads.
“We have to keep them off as much as possible and send them to the state highway. It has more resources,” said Legislator Earl Lavoie (D-Malone), suggesting the traffic could go from Malone on Route 11 to State Route 374 in Chateaugay to reach the wind farms.
Legislator Timothy Burpoe (D-Saranac Lake) said the county needs “a sizable escrow account” from Noble that could be dipped into to make repairs as they are needed.
As negotiations get nearer, legislators and Superintendent Lewis will also have to address liability issues, a road-grading system and a way to record pavement conditions before and after the prolonged heavy use.
They will also determine where responsibility would lie if an emergency repair is needed.
County officials expect to meet with Noble representatives on Thursday, Dec. 6, at which time some of the concerns may be addressed.
By Denise A. Raymo
24 November 2007