Sometime this year hikers will have a brand-new bridge for crossing Marcy Brook on their way to Mount Marcy and other destinations in the High Peaks Wilderness.
The state Department of Environmental Conservation plans to build the bridge about a quarter-mile downstream from Marcy Dam. The old bridge at the dam was washed away during Tropical Storm Irene in August.
After Irene, hikers had to rock hop across Marcy Brook at a place known as the Squirrel Crossing. The new bridge will be upstream of the Squirrel Crossing, according to DEC spokesman David Winchell.
Winchell said the log-stringer bridge will be constructed this spring or summer. The $20,000 cost (most of it for labor) will be borne by the state’s Environmental Protection Fund.
Winchell said no decision will be made on whether to rebuild Marcy Dam and/or its bridge until engineers assess the dam’s structural soundness. If DEC decides to build a bridge at Marcy Dam, Winchell added, the new downstream bridge will be dismantled and the materials used elsewhere.
Easily reachable from Adirondak Loj, Marcy Dam is one of the most popular destinations in the High Peaks Wilderness and a stopover on the way to many of the High Peaks. Winchell said DEC needed to install a bridge across the brook as soon as possible.
“It’s a busy crossing, and we need something better than a rock hop,” he said.
The floods of Irene not only washed away the bridge, but they also damaged the dam, causing most of the dam’s impoundment to drain. The March/April issue of the Explorer contains a debate on whether the dam should be repaired. Carl Heilman, who took the photo to the right, argues for fixing it and restoring the cherished view of a pond nestled among mountains. Tony Goodwin, editor of the Adirondack Mountain Club’s High Peaks guidebook, takes the opposite view, contending that the shallow pond had been filling with silt anyway and would continue to fill in if the dam were fixed.