HARFORD — People living in or traveling through the town of Harford over the next few months should be prepared for some work going on to replace a bridge spanning part of Owego Creek along Route 221.
Earlier this week the state Department of Transportation announced that construction is set to begin soon on a $1.9 million project to replace the Route 221 bridge over a tributary to the east branch of Owego Creek.
“Residents of Cortland County depend on their infrastructure to keep the economy of this important rural county moving forward,” Acting DOT Commissioner Paul A. Karas stated in a news release. “New York state has the largest infrastructure program in the country, and we are focusing on projects large and small to help energize local communities. This bridge is essential to the people of southwestern Cortland County. Maintaining its integrity will help keep Central New York rising for years to come.”
Michelle Tottey-Morse, Harford town supervisor, said paperwork on the project was signed around two years ago and there will be no cost to the town. “It’s great for the town,” she said. Work has already begun with the state preparing the area and removing some trees, Tottey-Morse said. The state also has plans to add a sidewalk from the mobile-home park to the town park, a distance around two-tenths of a mile long, for pedestrian safety.
The single-span, concrete slab bridge was built in 1935, according to the DOT. The replacement bridge will provide 10-foot-wide lanes with 5-foot-wide shoulders and a five-foot-wide sidewalk on the east side of the structure, matching the reconstructed roadway’s approach.
Heavy stone fill will also be placed in the stream under and around the bridge to reduce substructure erosion during times of high water, according to the DOT.
Ray Marsh, a former town supervisor in Harford and current pressroom manager for the Cortland Standard, said he remembers meeting with the DOT around 10 years ago regarding the bridge. Marsh said surveying was done and the town awaited funding.
Looking under the bridge Marsh saw rust and broken concrete, he said.
Gene Cilento, state Department of Transportation Region 3 assistant to the regional director and public information officer, said work was expected to begin this week, but may now start next week. The duration of the project is hard to tell at this point, Cilento said, however it is expected to only take this construction season.
Around 1,200 cars travel over the bridge on an average day, Cilento said.
Cilento said an on-site detour will be in place with two traffic signals, one on each side of the bridge.
Assemblywoman Barbara Lifton (D-Ithaca) also gave comment about the project in the DOT release. “I’m so pleased to hear that the DOT will be moving ahead with a project to replace this bridge over Route 221 in Cortland County, which serves as a vital link for residents in the area,” she stated in the email. “I was proud to support this funding in the final state budget. At a time when we continue to see problems with deteriorating infrastructure across the country, it’s great to know that the state of New York continues to make critical investments in our bridges, like this one.”