Lansing Fire Department Chief Scott Purcell wrote a letter to the Lansing Town Council on Nov. 20, citing his concerns over the department’s ability to respond to emergencies with the current weight restrictions on three bridges in the area that are in need of repairs.
Red Bridge, located on Salmon Creek Road, and the Salmon Creek bridge, located on Ridge Road, are restricted to 18 tons. The bridge on Ludlowville Road has been reduced to a 12-ton restriction after having no restriction. Most of the department’s vehicles exceed those limits. According to Town Supervisor Edward LaVigne, the department’s pumper engine vehicle is about 27 tons, the pumper tanker is about 35 tons, the heavy rescue vehicle is about 31 tons and the latter truck is about 38 tons.
Purcell wrote in the letter that response times are increasing because of these weight limits, illustrating this with multiple examples.
“135 Ludlowville Rd, the first house north of the bridge with a 12-ton weight restriction,” Purcell wrote. “What used to be a 3-minute response time and 1.6 miles is now a 7-minute response time and 3.5 miles. We are more than doubling our response times to most of the residents in Ludlowville.”
“397 Salmon Creek Road, using Myers Road to Ridge Rd, to Lansingville Road, to Lockerby Hill Road and south on Salmon Creek Road will be a response time of 13 minutes and 7.9 miles compared to what should be a response time of 7 minutes and 3.9 miles.”
“101 Salmon Creek Road is the first house north of Red Bridge. Using the same route as 397 Salmon Creek Road will be a response time of 14 minutes and 9.3 miles compared to what should be a response time of 5 minutes and 2.3 miles.”
Purcell mentioned that there are two other stations in Lansingville and North Lansing, respectively. However, he said response times will be at least eight minutes with the restrictions.
One other bridge that does not have plans for construction is the bridge on Dug Road. The bridge’s weight limit has also been reduced from 15 to six tons. Purcell wrote that none of the vehicles will be able to cross that bridge either and that there is no other way to access the households on that road.
“Simply put, we cannot offer any fire protection to those residents other than a small command vehicle with a fire extinguisher,” he wrote. “In other words those residents will endure very minimal protection to none.”
The Town Council has no control over the maintenance and construction of the three bridges, as the Salmon Creek bridge is owned by the state and the other two are owned by the county. Regardless, Purcell asked that the council do something to help remedy the situation.
“What I am asking is that the Town Board use whatever power they have to reach out to other government officials such as state assembly and state senators to find the funding to fix these bridges and make them capable of supporting large fire apparatus again,” he wrote.
The timeline for the construction for the Ludlowville bridge is not fully clear. LaVigne said he heard there is no time table at the moment for the construction plan, while Councilman Joseph Wetmore said he was told that construction would begin this coming spring.
Highway Superintendent Charlie Purcell said he received a call today from the county’s engineering department and he believes construction will take place as soon as spring arrives.
“They had questions on temporary water lines and stuff that’s kind of been in the mix,” he said. “It seems to me like…there’s been a sense of urgency to try to push forward. The interpretation I got from the end of the day was as soon as the weather breaks in the spring this Ludlowville bridge is going to go. Their sense of urgency seems to be, ‘We have to get ahead of the [Salmon Creek] bridge.’”
The construction on the Ludlowville bridge would be a one-year project. If construction were to begin this spring, then it would be completed by the spring of 2021, which is when the construction of the Salmon Creek bridge along Route 34B is expected to begin. That construction would be a two-year project, causing Route 34B to be rerouted over that time.
LaVigne said the hope is to have the construction of the Ludlowville bridge completed before the Salmon Creek bridge is shut down for construction.
“We’ll just have to adjust as we go, but it would be tragic if both of these aren’t done at the same time,” LaVigne said.