LAKE PLACID - The state Department of Environmental Conservation will have a bridge built across Marcy Brook in the High Peaks Wilderness next summer.
"What we want to do is get a safe crossing constructed there this summer," DEC spokesman Dave Winchell said.
Since Tropical Storm Irene damaged Marcy Dam and washed out the bridge across it on Aug. 28, hikers on the Van Hoevenberg Trail have used what is called the Squirrel Crossing to get across Marcy Brook. The crossing is about a quarter-mile downstream from Marcy Dam.
The problem with the Squirrel Crossing is that it requires hikers to cross the brook by hopping rocks. The DEC has determined this is not a realistic long-term solution.
"Even in the best of times for people that are elderly or just aren't as nimble on their feet as others, rock hopping can be a little dangerous," Winchell said.
Next summer, the DEC will have a log-stringer-style wooden footbridge constructed between the Squirrel Crossing and Marcy Dam. The DEC has already obtained the materials for the bridge and hired a contractor to construct it, he said.
The bridge will be built using about $20,000 from stewardship monies in the Environmental Protection Fund.
Winchell did say the new bridge may only be temporary. That's because the DEC also plans to have a structural evaluation of Marcy Dam done sometime in the future to determine if it can support a footbridge. If the DEC decides the dam can still support a footbridge and decides to build one there, the downstream bridge would be dismantled and the materials used somewhere else, Winchell said.
If a bridge isn't built over the dam, the one between the dam and Squirrel Crossing will become permanent.
The Van Hoevenberg Trail is popular for hikers traveling to and from the Adirondack Mountain Club's High Peaks Information Center parking lot to several High Peaks, including Mount Marcy.