Construction season begins on I-390, I-490

Work has begun on two major roadway projects in the Rochester and Finger Lakes regions that total nearly $42 million.

Construction began on a 10.5-mile stretch of I-390 between Avon and Henrietta in mid-May, with paving along the northbound lanes expected to begin in late June. The $32.2 million project will require daily single-lane closures and will include an overlay of the existing concrete pavement to prevent further deterioration. Most of the construction along the southbound lanes is expected to take place in 2022.

“All across the state we are working to rebuild our infrastructure to meet the needs of a 21st-century economy and these investments in Rochester area interstates will help improve connectivity, enhance safety and promote economic growth for the region,” said state Department of Transportation Commissioner Marie Therese Dominguez in a statement. “DOT looks forward to hitting the ground running with these projects that will no doubt benefit the hundreds of thousands of daily motorists along these important corridors.”

The second project will provide a smoother riding surface for motorists between South Landing Road in Brighton and Garnsey Road in Perinton along I-490. The $9.7 million project began with work to remove hazardous trees and brush this spring and paving is expected to begin this week. The paving work is expected to take place during the evening and overnight hours to accommodate a single lane of traffic. Some detours are expected.

“Projects like the repaving of key interstates in the Finger Lakes Region are just an example of the great state of New York committing to building a better future,” said Monroe County Executive Adam Bello. “Residents of the Greater Rochester and Finger Lakes regions will find great benefits in the repaving of these key interstates. I am so appreciative of the state Department of Transportation for their continued efforts to provide a safe and efficient transportation system in New York.”

The I-490 project is expected to be completed in late 2021, while the I-390 project is expected to be completed by the end of 2022.

“Today marks an important step in the right direction to ensure the safety and quality of transportation for hundreds of thousands of residents in my district and neighboring districts,” said Assemblymember Jennifer Lunsford, whose district covers some of Monroe County. “Repaving our highways will also facilitate critical economic activity throughout our region and ensure uninterrupted flow of goods and services to our communities.”

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Airports, transit systems receive federal funding

Upstate New York airports and transit systems will share more than $480 million in the newest COVID relief package, including several in the Rochester and Finger Lakes regions.

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) said this week that Upstate airports will receive more than $84 million, while transit systems will receive nearly $396 million to help transportation systems keep their wheels turning while the state recovers from the pandemic.

“Air travel and public transportation are among the most severely impacted industries amid the pandemic, and both are vital to the connectivity and success of the upstate economy,” Schumer said in a statement. “Airports and transit systems serve important functions in their communities, especially in more rural areas, connecting communities and residents and allowing for economic opportunities to cruise in. As majority leader, I was proud to make transportation funding a priority and the American Rescue Plan will deliver this much-needed aid to keep upstate residents connected. Help is on the way that will put Upstate New York’s transportation on the road to recovery.”

In the Rochester area, the Frederick Douglass Greater Rochester International Airport will receive roughly $12 million, while Finger Lakes Regional Airport, Dansville Municipal Airport, Genesee County Airport and Canandaigua Airport will receive $32,000 each.

Rochester-Genesee Regional Transportation Authority will receive $45.4 million in funding.

Schumer noted that the total funding will be allocated by the Department of Transportation and includes $12.5 million for the state DOT Rural 5311 program, which aims to support public transportation in areas with populations of fewer than 50,000 people. The funds may be used for capital and operating assistance grants to local public bodies, tribes and operators of intercity bus services in rural areas.

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Pittsford bridge closed for repairs for six months

Construction is set to begin this week on the rehabilitation of the State Street Bridge over the Erie Canal in the village of Pittsford. The project is designed to preserve and extend the service life of the steel truss bridge, originally constructed in 1973, through the replacement or repair of aging structural elements on the bridge.

The Route 31 bridge is a direct link into the village of Pittsford’s Historic District and downtown businesses.

“The Erie Canal helped make New York the Empire State and today, it continues to spur commercial and economic activity in the village of Pittsford,” said state Department of Transportation Commissioner Marie Therese Dominguez. “This project will extend the bridge’s service life for another 30 years and help preserve its contribution to the village’s Historic District and nearby Schoen Place, one of the most active waterfronts along the Erie Canal.”

The $3.58 million project will replace steel members, replace the concrete bridge deck and its sidewalks and approach slabs. Asphalt approaches to the bridge will be repaved. Once completed, the bridge will better accommodate users of the roadway and limit future disruptions to village businesses and destinations such as the public library and other municipal buildings, officials said.

The bridge was scheduled to close to traffic this week for up to six months. Following a public meeting in December 2019 and February 2020, the DOT has been in regular communication with village officials and first responders on the project to discuss the work involved and plans for an off-site detour, which will be in place during construction using Route 96, Route 31F, Route 153 and I-490. In addition, local traffic still will be able to access Route 31 up to the construction site on either side of the bridge.

“While this project is in the village, it does affect the many town residents, business owners and visitors who travel through the area each day,” said Pittsford Town Supervisor Bill Smith. “I’m grateful village Mayor Bob Corby continues to advocate for the good of the community and has been in close contact with the NYSDOT to ensure the project runs as efficiently and quickly as possible while minimizing its impact on our town and village residents.”

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Rail, port infrastructure improvement funding available

Nearly $90 million in state and federal funding is being made available for rail and port infrastructure improvements across New York.

“Our statewide and regional economies depend on having a reliable and resilient transportation network to support commercial activities,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in a statement last week. “These targeted investments allow us to modernize our state’s aging rail and port infrastructure, helping to spur economic growth and ensure we remain competitive in today’s global economy.”

Projects funded through the Passenger and Freight Rail Assistance Program, which will be administered by the state Department of Transportation, will be selected through a competitive solicitation process and rated based on established criteria that include benefit-cost analysis, adherence to regional economic development plans, compatibility with other private and public investments and actions that enhance resilience and reduce climate risk.

“These projects will help improve the state’s overall economic competitiveness while removing millions of trucks annually from our roadways,” said state DOT Commissioner Marie Therese Dominquez.

Eligible projects may include track and bridge rehabilitation; yard, terminal and siding construction; elimination of clearance obstructions; wharf, dock and bulkhead construction and reconstruction; dredging; and other projects that enhance economic competitiveness and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Applications will be accepted through April 22.

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Perinton bridge wins APWA award

Perinton’s Route 31F bridge replacement project has been awarded Project of the Year by the American Public Works Association Genesee Valley Chapter.

State Route 31F over Thomas Creek (photo provided)
State Route 31F over Thomas Creek (photo provided)

In the category of structures projects costing less than $5 million, the Macedon Center Road bridge that carries traffic over Thomas Creek won top honors for the state Department of Transportation  during the APWA’s recent awards banquet.

The $1 million project replaced a 90-year-old bridge with a single-span, three-sided precast concrete structure that is wider and accommodates both vehicles and pedestrians. The existing pedestrian bridge was removed and returned to the Town of Perinton for future use.

“This award is a testament to our dedicated personnel in the Rochester-Finger Lakes region, and I congratulate them on their success in planning, designing and executing this superb project,” Acting Commissioner Paul Karas said in a statement.

The project will now compete at the state level, Karas said.

A 32-day detour was in place while the former bridge was removed and the new bridge was constructed. The project also included replacing the guiderail, improving drainage systems, environmental accommodations, resurfacing the asphalt pavement approaching the bridge and installing new pavement markings.

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State DOT begins bridge replacement on Route 31F in Perinton

bagger-constructing-construction-2489Construction has begun on a $1.1 million project to replace a bridge in  Perinton.

The state Department of Transportation will close the bridge that carries Route 31F over Thomas Creek in Perinton on July 16, with project completion expected this fall, officials said Friday.

“Replacing the Macedon Center Road bridge will enhance safety for motorists and pedestrians and revitalize the local economy,” DOT Acting Commissioner Paul Karas said in a statement. “This is one of Gov. Cuomo’s many smart infrastructure investments that are helping move the Finger Lakes forward.”

The bridge is a critical link between Monroe and Wayne counties for many commercial vehicles, officials said, and it helps connect residents to nearby businesses and schools in Perinton and Macedon.

The project will consist of replacing the existing bridge, which is nearly 90 years old, with a new, single-span structure using reinforced concrete. The new bridge will be wider, with 12-foot travel lanes and six-foot shoulders. The pedestrian bridge that lies north of the existing bridge will be removed and the new bridge will carry a sidewalk in its place.

“Public investments in transportation infrastructure are critical not only for the construction jobs created, but for the long-term economic activity generated as a result of a vibrant, efficient network of roads and bridges,” Monroe County Executive Cheryl Dinolfo said.

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Lake Ontario State Parkway undergoing repairs

bagger-constructing-construction-2489Construction has begun on a $5.2 million paving project in northern Monroe and Orleans counties, the state Department of Transportation said this week.

The project will rehabilitate nearly 30 lane miles of the Lake Ontario State Parkway between Route 19 in Hamlin and Route 237 in Kendall. The project is expected to significantly improve the existing pavement conditions through a multi-course resurfacing in both eastbound and westbound lanes.

Work on the project is beginning nearly a month earlier than anticipated and will minimize the impact on tourism drawn by nearby Hamlin Beach State Park.

“This significant rehabilitation work along Lake Ontario will enhance safety and make it easier for the traveling public to utilize this asset in the summer months and beyond,” said DOT acting commissioner Paul Karas in a statement.

The Parkway will remain open to traffic throughout the construction, with at least one lane of traffic maintained in each direction. Short-term ramp closures will take place during paving of the on and off-ramps at the Route 237, Route 272 and Hamlin Beach interchanges. The ramps will be kept open on weekends from Memorial Day to Labor Day.

The eastbound ramp at Hamlin Beach State Park will close in early May for roughly a week for concrete repairs to the bridge deck over Yanty Creek.

“I am very pleased to be seeing some progress on this long-standing issue,” Orleans County Legislature Chairwoman Lynne Johnson said. “My hope is that this is just the beginning of a larger effort to restore the Lake Ontario State Parkway to a condition fitting the beautiful, scenic drive along Lake Ontario.”

Work will consist of overlaying the existing deteriorating concrete pavement, the installation of new wrong-way signs, upgraded pavement markings and striping, as well as narrowing the existing shoulder of the Parkway from 12 feet to eight feet in width.

“This scenic byway is crucial to local tourism, travel and recreation as a main artery through Western New York that hosts numerous campers, travelers and fisherman,” said Rep. Stephen Hawley, R-Batavia. “I am proud to be a part of this project’s success, and I look forward to smoother and safer travel in the near future.”

During the paving project, detours will be posted for all ramp closures at Hamlin Beach Park. Work will continue through the end of summer, with a targeted completion date of early fall, officials said.

“I’m excited to see improvements being made to Lake Ontario State Parkway, especially along this stretch,” Monroe County Executive Cheryl Dinolfo said. “The Parkway improves accessibility in northwestern Monroe County and enhances our efforts to attract and retain jobs here in our community.”

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Feds fine N.Y. $14M in battle over tourist highway signs

i-love-nyThe state of New York stands to lose $14 million in federal funding as a result of a feud over the legality of the I Love New York signs that dot the state’s numerous highways.

In a letter to the New York State Thruway Authority and the state Department of Transportation Thursday, Brandye Hendrickson, acting administrator of the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration,   said the state failed to comply with federal requirements.

“Because of the installation of more than 500 non-compliant signs and repeated notification to remove these installations, the FHWA will assess initial penalties for non-compliance effective immediately,” Hendrickson wrote. “The assessed penalties will be an initial reduction of 1 percent of fiscal year 2018 National Highway Performance Program and Surface Transportation Block Grant Program funding.”

That amounts to a $14 million penalty, Hendrickson wrote.

“If the state comes into compliance with the requirements mentioned above prior to Sept. 30, 2018, FHWA will reinstate the funds,” she wrote.

The dispute over the signs’ legality dates to 2014, when Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced in his State of the State address plans to launch a “whole new signage campaign on our roads, promoting the assets of New York.”

The signage would include a path through history campaign, the I love New York attraction campaign and the taste of New York food and beverages.

“You will see these signs on the roads literally in the next few days,” Cuomo said in his address. “These campaigns link online to all those attractions in that particular area, all along the Thruway and all along major routes.”

The goal, Cuomo said at the time, was to get people off the roads and into communities to foster and promote the state’s economy.

But the FHWA said at the time the signs were illegal because they were not in compliance with the National Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices or the state’s Vehicle and Traffic Law, a point that Hendrickson noted in her letter yesterday.

“Motorist safety is always our primary objective,” Hendrickson wrote. “One of the Federal Highway Administration’s responsibilities in this area is to ensure safety by requiring consistent sign information across the country.”

The more than 500 signs erected across the state feature a main sign installation with four logos, followed closely by individual sign installations with one logo per sign. Hendrickson said because each sign is on large supports and structures, they create obstructions within the roadside environment that could pose safety risks.

Sen. Rich Funke, R-Perinton, said that’s laughable. The signs have been helpful and help sell tourism.

“Listen, tourism is a $64 billion industry in the state. Tourism last year in the Finger Lakes was up 15 percent. We don’t view these signs as dangerous,” Funke’s Chief of Staff, Matt Nelligan, said, speaking on behalf of the senator. “We think at the end of the day, it seems to me this is just maybe another shot in the war between the Cuomo administration and D.C. We don’t think the upstate tourism economy should be caught in the middle of that fight. Withholding $14 million in highway funding that could threaten to not allow us to do road and bridge maintenance we need, we don’t think that’s the right approach.”

Some local elected officials have expressed frustration toward Cuomo for installing the signs despite the issue of their legality.

“I am 100 percent in favor of advertising all the great things New York State has to offer, however, it is disappointing that due to the governor acting independently outside of federal regulations, we are missing out on important funding that could be used to help improve infrastructure upstate and make our roads safer for all New Yorkers,” said state Sen. Joseph Robach, R-Greece, on Friday.

Assemblyman Joseph Errigo, R-Conesus, was less circumspect.

“Now, after the governor wasted $8 million to install signs, we’ll need to pay millions more to remove them or risk losing an additional $14 million in funding for our highways, which are in desperate need of more funding,” Errigo said in a statement. “If the governor had put his ego aside, adhered to federal highway rules and found some way to compromise before he disregarded the law, we could have avoided this embarrassing debacle in the first place.”

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