October 26, 2021

Clinton Avenue neighbors share concerns about street work

Colin Spencer/staff reporter

An excavator drops dirt into a truck on Clinton Avenue in Cortland in this June 2021 Cortland Standard file photo. Residents of the street shared concerns over dust and noise caused by the work, part of the city Gateway Project.

Jon House waxed his car Friday as construction work went on down the street from his home on Clinton Avenue in Cortland.

Putting on a coat of wax will help for a short period, but he’ll likely have to apply another coat later with all the dust being kicked up from vehicles on the torn up street during the Gateway Project.

“It’s just disgusting,” House said.

As construction crews replace aging infrastructure under the street and add new amenities at street level, Clinton Avenue residents said living through the work that is designed to improve the city’s entryway from Interstate 81 to Main Street is difficult.

The $25 million project will include:

  • Replacing water, sewer and gas lines.
  • Adding bike lanes.
  • Adding new lighting.
  • Creating crosswalks.
  • Adding new masonry and city entry signs.

Work began in April and is scheduled to go to spring or summer 2022, Nic Dovi, the superintendent of the city Department of Public Works, said in May.

The biggest issue House has faced is the dirt that gets kicked up as vehicles drive down the street.

“I have no (health) problems, but I have problems breathing with this,” he said.

House has especially been concerned with how the dust is affecting his older neighbors.

More so, the dust has made enjoying the warmer weather outside and barbecuing almost impossible, he said. “You try to get out of here as much as possible.”

After 28 years of living on the street, House said that once the project is done, he will be selling his house and leave.

“I’ve just had it,” he said.

Maggie Shultes also said the dust has been a big concern. Even with the street closed to through traffic, people will still drive down the street, kicking up dust clouds.

“We presume it’s people out of town whose GPS is leading them this way because they have no other idea of how to get through,” she said.

This concern has been intensified with tractor-trailers coming down the street.

“I mean, when you see a logging truck coming down with a full load of logs, and it’s going down in the middle of the street, you’re thinking, ‘It’s closed!’” she said.

However, Shultes said she understood there isn’t much way around the noise and dust caused by the work — along with the rattling of her house.

“You just have to deal with it,” she said.

The biggest problem Courtney Cuthbert-Wing has with the work is when dirt or equipment blocks her driveway, preventing her from getting out.

She’s had to call her work or her children’s school to say she can’t leave her home and that she’ll be late. And her young children have trouble napping with the noise, she said.

Beyond keeping her windows closed to prevent dust coming in and somewhat reduce the noise, Cuthbert-Wing said there isn’t much she can do.

“I just can’t wait for it to be over,” she said. “We just need to get along with our daily lives.”

Cortland Mayor Brian Tobin said the city has been working to figure out how to mitigate the dust issue. As for sound, that will be harder to address. The work, especially replacing the water and sewer mains, is “absolutely necessary,” he said.

“As frustrating as it is, we appreciate people putting up with inconvenience,” Tobin said. “It’s the short term pain for the long-term gain.”

If you’re a neighbor
Cortland Mayor Brian Tobin said that the city has been working to address complaints brought to Councilperson Troy Beckwith (D-7th Ward), who represents the district.

Additionally, people with complaints or concerns can contact the mayor’s office at mayor@cortland.org
or 607-753-0872.