A state supreme court judge has issued a preliminary decision barring the state from starting construction of a new snowmobile bridge over the Cedar River.
The ruling last week by state Supreme Court Judge Robert Muller comes in the lawsuit that Protect the Adirondack and Adirondack Wild have against the state Department of Environmental Conservation.
The lawsuit, filed in January, contends the bridge would violate the state Wild, Scenic, and Recreational Rivers System Act. They also say the department failed to follow proper legal steps before issuing itself a permit for the bridge. The 12-foot-wide bridge — with steel trusses — would be part of a snowmobile connector trail between Indian Lake and towns to the north.
In his decision, Muller ordered the case stayed pending a decision in a related lawsuit the environmental groups have against the DEC regarding a section of the snowmobile trail that is in the river corridor south of the Cedar River bridge. That case is in the court of appeals.
Muller also issued a preliminary injunction on the bridge building pending the outcome of this case.
The department contends the bridge is allowed because it would continue use that began before the state acquired the property in 2012. Although an earlier bridge collapsed in the 1970s, snowmobile riders continued to cross the river on ice at the same spot, according to DEC.
DEC had planned to start work on the project on June 15, but the judge issued a temporary restraining order. DEC had planned to finish the work by next summer.
The DEC declined to comment on Tuesday’s decision, saying it it reviewing the court decision.
Dave Gibson, managing partner with Adirondack Wild, said he’s very pleased with the decision.
“The preliminary injunction that he issued Tuesday suggests we’ve met a higher hurdle. Otherwise he would not have issue it,” he said. “It’s not a guarantee of success … but we have met the three critical tests for an injunction and that’s important at this stage.”