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City bridge work begins

Joe McIntyre/staff photographer

Crews from Vestal-based Procon Contracting prepare to shot-blast the foundation of the Groton Avenue bridge in Cortland to remove spalling concrete, seen bottom right. The bridge is among three being improved this summer.

As work begins on three city bridge projects, a fourth has been delayed while a federal agency tries to decide if it would pose a hazard to the northern long-eared bat.

The Army Corps of Engineers has not completed a required study of threatened and endangered species, so the city has delayed until next year work on the Madison Street bridge over Dry Creek, city Public Works Superintendent Christopher Bistocchi said Monday.

The bats leave the Cortland area in October and return in April each year.
A decision by the Army Corps of Engineers on the impact of the project on the bats was expected last month but it has not yet been received.

“We decided to wait until next year because of the delay,” Bistocchi said.

Repairs or preparation for work has begun and will run through August at: the Groton Avenue bridge over Otter Creek near Byrne Dairy; the Rickard Street bridge over the West Branch Tioughnioga River; the Homer Avenue bridge over Dry Creek at Suggett Park.

Alderman Kathryn Silliman (D-2nd Ward), whose district includes the affected sections of Homer and Groton avenues, said while the bridge projects will be an inconvenience, they are necessary.

“Hopefully it will mean less flooding and improve the infrastructure because it needs updating,” she said. “I know it will be aggravating. You just have to figure out some workarounds.”

“Be patient,” she added. “Slow down on the Otter Creek detour. Be aware of kids in the neighborhood.”

Groton Avenue, a main thoroughfare between the city and Cortlandville that has 14,000 vehicles pass daily, will be closed to traffic from June 26 to July 21 for replacement of the bridge deck.

Eastbound traffic will be routed onto Townley Avenue and Otter Creek Place. Westbound traffic will be routed along Homer Avenue to Lincoln Avenue to Woodruff Street and back to Groton Avenue.

The more extensive work on the three bridges was delayed until next week after schools close, Bistocchi said. Parker Elementary Schools is not far from the work on Homer and Groton avenues.

The Groton Avenue and Rickard streets bridges are part of combined contract with Vestal-based Procon Contracting along with a bridge on Homer Avenue that will cost a combined $498,303. The Groton Avenue bridge’s deck will be replaced and its guardrails repaired. The Rickard Street bridge will have deck, curbing and guardrail repairs and sidewalk work done.

A temporary traffic light will govern alternating one-way traffic on Rickard Street.

Bistocchi said the bridge projects should be done in time for Labor Day weekend.

Work on the Homer Avenue bridge is not expected to interfere with traffic, Bistocchi said.

The $710,000 Madison Street project will remove the bridge and replace it with precast concrete beams and a deck, curbing, sidewalks and bridge rails. The project will be bid separately from the other bridges.

The state is paying 80 percent of the costs and the state will pay 10 percent. That leaves the city paying $120,000, Bistocchi said.

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