RENSSELAER FALLS – Mayor Jeffrey W. Dollinger is encouraging residents to express their concerns with the St. Lawrence County Highway Department over the County Route 14 bridges continued closure.
The project, which began more than six months ago, involved demolishing the old truss-style bridge that had corroded over time and replacing it with a one-pier steel structure with a concrete deck.
Last week, the county announced the bridges opening will be delayed for another two months following a sewer pipe malfunction. Crews need additional time to reinforce the sewer pipe underneath the bridge with steel, county Highway Superintendent Toby M. Bogart said.
Then we will have to wait for the pressure test of the pipe, said Mr. Bogart. Once that is completed they can put the guiderail up, but until then, it is still a traffic safety hazard.
Meanwhile, residents who expected the bridge to be open Nov. 30 have grown anxious over the projects extension. Some expressed their frustrations during Mondays village board meeting.
Why couldnt they do like they do everywhere else? said resident Harold L. Phillips. Whoever lives over there can go across. Its not like there is going to be a car going over there every three seconds. They dont realize what it costs us to drive around that detour, every day. People dont realize it.
I think people realize, I think its a questions whether they care or not, said Mr. Dollinger in response. I think were just small enough that they think they dont have to deal with it.
Board member Steven Hammond said he was most concerned about the effect the delay would have on the response time of some emergency services during the winter months. In the case of an emergency, Heuveltons emergency services are dispatched to the west side of town.
But now youre waiting much longer for a response, said Mr. Dollinger. Instead of half a mile, youre talking an extra eight or nine miles away. They dont work on it at night. You cant at least open it at night and close it during the day?
But Mr. Bogart said that the equipment and the materials sit in the center of the bridge, and the contractor, Tioga Construction, Herkimer, has complete control over the project.
The reason we have it closed is so that we can allow the contractor free access to get the job done faster, said Mr. Bogart. If we had to tear down and set up the equipment each day, it would extend the project to double the amount of the time it would take to complete the project. We are going to continue to work with the contractor to get it open as soon as possible.
Unsatisfied with the countys response, Mr. Dollinger encouraged residents to contact the county Highway Department, and ask them to seek other alternatives.
We have to speak out in numbers, said Mr. Dollinger. I am just one man. Get that phone ringing or show up at the office.