December 2, 2021

Bridge work delayed again

Blodgett Mills span’s closure postponed Wednesday for second time

Todd R. McAdam/managing editor

A car passes along the Blodgett Mills Road bridge across the Tioughnioga River in Blodgett Mills on Wednesday. A project to start this week will close the bridge for three months, forcing a detour through Cortland.

Cortland County Highway Superintendent Charlie Sudbrink stood just past Blodgett Mills Bridge Wednesday morning. He was waiting on Economy Paving Co. to close the bridge so construction could begin.

By noon, the bridge still hadn’t been closed.

“It’s just disappointing that there’s no communication from the contractor,” Sudbrink said.

The bridge was scheduled to be shut down Monday until the end of October for a little over $1.2 million refurbishment. However, the closure date was pushed to Wednesday without explanation. Sudbrink said he was not sure why it was delayed again, but was going to find out. He could not be reached for further comment on the delay.

The project manager for Economy Paving couldn’t be reached for comment this morning.

The entire project — including planning and engineering costs — will cost $1.9 million, with the county paying 5 percent, or $94,750. The state will cover the rest of the cost.

Sudbrink said there will be a detour along Kellogg Road.

“It’s a minor inconvenience,” Sudbrink said, but it’s needed.

Without the work, Sudbrink said, the state would red flag the bridge and close it down. However, once construction is done the bridge should last another 50 years.

Sudbrink said he has reached out to business owners to let them know what was going on.

“Some are understanding and some are upset, but it’s better than New York state putting a red flag on the bridge,” he said.

However, Kris Larsen, the owner of K&B Plastics Industries, expects the project to cost him $20,000, maybe $50,000.

His company sees a dozen tractor-trailers come in and out of his facility adjacent to the bridge on any typical day. The detour is money.

“That’s extra miles, extra time, extra wear and tear,” Larsen said Wednesday. “It’s really upsetting.”

Instead of the 2.5 miles each rig needs to drive from Exit 10 in Polkville to his yard, each would need to head to Exit 11 in Cortland, then backtrack through several urban intersections before turning south on Kellogg Road, a two-lane byway that Larsen isn’t sure was ever meant for 53-foot trailers capable of hauling 22 tons.

And it’s not just one entry and egress. Trucks need to be weighed, both with light load and heavy, which Larsen has done at Suit-Kote up the road. Two trips on that detour is a lot more time.

“It’s going to be a big inconvenience,” Larsen said. And if the three-month project is delayed into the cold weather? “I won’t let my trucks go on Kellogg Road in the winter.”

There is also a plan in place for emergency services.

The closest fire station to that neighborhood is in Polkville, but to get to the neighborhood the firefighters would have to take a 5-mile detour instead of the usual 1.5 miles because of the closure.

“We put measures in place to account for that (detours),” said Kevin Whitney, the Cortlandville fire commissioner.

Cortlandville Deputy Fire Chief Gere Henry said the Cortland City Fire Department will respond along with Cortlandville to any structure fire in that neighborhood for the duration of the construction.

“Everything else will be ran the same, it will just take a little longer for us to get there,” Henry said. “We can always ask for them (Cortland) if we need them.”

However, Henry said because it will take the department a little longer people, should call 911 as soon as they feel they need help.

Managing Editor Todd R. McAdam contributed to this report.