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Airport receives $5.8 million federal grant

The Greater Rochester International Airport will receive nearly $6 million from the U.S. Department of Transportation.

The funding is earmarked for critical safety renovations such as new airfield guidance signs, enhanced runway lighting and runway rehabilitation, U.S. Rep. Joseph Morelle announced Monday.

“I’m so pleased that this significant grant will help strengthen the infrastructure of the Greater Rochester International Airport and enhance the safety and security of travelers,” Morelle said. “This grant supports the ongoing revitalization of our airport and complements the substantial New York State investment that is truly transforming our community’s transportation hub.”

Rochester’s airport is still raking in the accolades for its two-year, $79 million renovation that included a new entrance canopy, a wide-scale redesign of the airport’s terminal building to feature new shopping and dining options for travelers and new designs that incorporate accessibility features, with a particular focus on the deaf and hearing-impaired community.

Since the renovation’s completion last fall, the airport has received a handful of additional grants including $90,000 to conduct an environmental study and $1.5 million  to remove hazardous obstructions  from the Federal Aviation Administration and $499,000 from the state Department of Transportation to enable the airport to construct a parking guidance system inside the airport ramp garage.

“I am grateful to the U.S. DOT for their investment and look forward to continuing our efforts to improve (the) passenger experience and further strengthen our region’s ability to remain competitive in the global economy,” Morelle said of Monday’s announcement.

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Canal lift bridge project, detour begins

A $16.3 million project will begin Tuesday to rehabilitate two historic Erie Canal lift bridges.

The state Department of Transportation and Canal Corp. announced the closure of the Route 259 bridge in Spencerport on July 9. A detour will be in place until the project is completed. The Route 250 bridge in Fairport is scheduled to close to traffic on Sept. 4.

Both bridges, built in 1914, are scheduled to re-open late next year.

“The Erie Canal is a treasure in Monroe County and this rehabilitation project will repair critical infrastructure needs to ensure that Spencerport and Fairport remain vibrant communities for residents and visitors alike,” U.S. Rep. Joseph Morelle said in a statement.

The two state agencies will share the cost of the canal bridge project. Canal Corp. is responsible for maintaining and operating the lifting components of the canal bridges, while the state DOT owns and maintains the bridges and state highways.

“Historic lift bridges like the one on Main Street in Fairport are as integral to our community as the canal itself,” said State Sen. Rich Funke, R-Perinton. “I’m so pleased to see this investment in strengthening this community asset and making it safer for our residents and ensuring its viability into the future.”

The repairs will include the installation of high-strength galvanized steel to replace the flooring systems, updates to the lifting mechanisms and control towers and improvements to the bridge railings and guide rail on the bridge approaches, among other things.

Canal boat traffic will not be impacted by the work, and business and sidewalk access will be maintained throughout the project’s duration.

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Finger Lakes transportation projects receive funding

Seven projects in the Finger Lakes region have been awarded a total of $12.5 million to support transportation and air quality improvements here. The funding is being provided by the Federal Highway Administration and administered by the state Department of Transportation.

“New York State is making historic, nation-leading investments in cleaner and more sustainable transportation infrastructure which is crucial to the growth of local economies,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in a statement Thursday. “These investments in bike and pedestrian enhancements across the state will help revitalize communities, reduce our carbon footprint and demonstrate once again that New York is building for the future.”

The investment is part of a $144.6 million award for 72 projects statewide and will support the construction of new multi-use bicycle and pedestrian facilities, new ADA accessible sidewalks, improved access to public transportation and enhanced roadway safety, officials said.

Finger Lakes projects include:

  • $1.1 million to the village of Arcade for new pedestrian accessibility enhancements along Main Street;
  • $551,000 to the village of Lima for new pedestrian accessibility enhancements;
  • $1.2 million to the state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation for new enhancements to the Genesee Valley Greenway State Park;
  • $1.8 million to Ontario County for construction of new pedestrian accessibility enhancements along Lakeshore Drive and Route 364;
  • $1.8 million to Rochester Genesee Regional Transportation Authority to expand bike share and vanpool programs;
  • $5 million to RGRTA to implement new micro-transit services; and
  • $998,000 to the village of Perry to construct a new multiuse trail that connects Perry Beach to downtown Perry.

“Smart investments in all transportation sectors by Gov. Cuomo are helping to spur economic growth in local communities across New York State,” said state DOT Chief of Staff Todd Westhuis. “People want more access to pedestrian and bicycle-friendly accommodations in their communities, and these grants will encourage healthy living and create new opportunities for these popular modes of transportation, while improving air quality and quality of life.”

The projects were selected through a competitive solicitation process. Awardees presented plans that will increase options for non-vehicular transportation, reduce vehicle emissions or traffic congestion, or both. The funding will provide up to 80 percent of the cost of each project.

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Two area canal bridges to close for rehabilitation

The New York State Canal Corp. board of directors has approved $9.4 million to help fund rehabilitation of two lift bridges over the Erie Canal in Monroe County.

The century-old bridges in Spencerport and Fairport will receive updated controls, electrical and mechanical systems as well as rehabilitation of the structures. The approaches to the Spencerport bridge will be changed to improve sightlines for motorists. The renovations are designed to preserve and maintain the bridges’ control towers, which are historically significant.

The funding is part of a $16.2 million project that will be overseen by the state Department of Transportation. The Canal Corp. is responsible for paying for capital improvements to the lifting mechanisms and related components on the Erie Canal. The DOT, which owns the bridges, is responsible for the bridges’ structure and roadway.

“New York’s iconic canal lift bridges are among the most recognizable and beloved structures in these villages and we will work closely with DOT to ensure their historic integrity is maintained,” Canal Corp. Director Brian Stratton said in a statement. “These bridges help tell the Erie Canal story, and many a boater, motorist or pedestrian looks forward to encountering them.”

Preliminary construction began in January and will ramp up later this year. The bridges are expected to be completed by fall of 2020. The Fairport lift bridge, which travels over Main Street, will close in early September this year and the roughly 16,000 vehicles who use the bridge daily will be detoured onto Turk Hill, Ayrault and Whitney roads.

The Spencerport bridge, which crosses over Route 259, will close in July and motorists will be instructed to use routes 31 and 104 as detours. Some 15,000 motorists use the bridge daily.

The bridges are among 16 lift bridges that travel over the western Erie Canal between Fairport and Lockport in Niagara County.

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Assembly Minority Conference releases infrastructure report

New York State’s Assembly Minority Conference, led by Brian Kolb, R-Canandaigua, plans to introduce a package of bills to improve funding for the state’s roads, bridges and water and sewer systems. The announcement followed Monday’s release of the task force’s new report, “New York’s Infrastructure: A Report on Fortifying Our Roads, Bridges and Water Systems.”

cars highways city aerial-view-architecture-bridges-681335Among the top infrastructure criticisms noted in the report is the age of the state’s infrastructure. As of late 2017, more than one in 10 state and local bridges were not up to federal standards, according to the report, and a 2018 CNBC study ranked New York’s infrastructure as seventh worst in the country due to the poor state of road, bridge and water system conditions.

The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) estimates that for every $1 spent on road, highway and bridge improvements, there is an average benefit of $5.20 yielded from reduced congestion, lower vehicle maintenance costs and lower road and bridge maintenance costs. The report also notes that according to a 2016 report from TRIP, a national transportation research group, deficient roads cost New Yorkers $24.9 billion a year in vehicle operating costs, congestion-related delays and traffic crashes.

“What we learned strongly reinforces the undeniable reality that New York’s statewide and local transportation infrastructure faces critical deficiencies that demand our attention and action. It will require continued cooperation on targeted legislation, strategic planning and especially investment,” said task force co-chairman Phil Palmesano, R-Corning. “This is especially true when it comes to the need for the state to strengthen and increase its funding commitment to important programs like the (Consolidated Local Street and Highway Improvement Program, or CHIPS) for the improvement and ongoing maintenance of local roads, bridges and culverts, as well as investments for local water and sewer infrastructure. This network of local infrastructure is significant and vital, and these systems are in crisis.”

But securing funding, the report states, is a “never-ending battle.” The Dedicated Highway and Bridge Trust Fund (DHBTF), it states, has been heavily scrutinized in recent years for its inability to adequately fund capital investments.

Last fall, members of the minority conference hosted a series of eight regional forums to discuss topics that impact the state’s transportation and infrastructure. Testimony at the regional forums confirmed that efforts to fix the state’s transportation infrastructure depend on cooperation and commitment from every level of government.

“One sentiment was echoed unanimously at every forum: There is a crucial need for the state to forge a stronger partnership with municipalities and provide more robust and more consistent funding for local road, bridge and water infrastructure,” according to the report.

Municipalities statewide rely on CHIPS funding for maintenance and rehabilitation projects, and for some it is the sole source of their paving budget, but the yearly CHIPS base funding increased just $75 million in the last decade, according to the report.

“The rising costs of construction labor, materials and state-mandated rules and regulations have prevented localities from getting ahead,” the report states.

The report notes that forum speakers expressed concern with many of the state’s regulations, including complying with the 30 percent goal of hiring Minority- and Women-Owned Business Enterprises, difficulties complying with the Americans with Disabilities Act, the way in which CHIPS funding was received and used and the Prevailing Wage rate system, which forum participants described as “a regulatory burden that was overly complex and unreasonably costly, driving project expenses up substantially.”

“Professionals from every region of the state spoke with us about their experiences and challenges, and our commitment to uncovering the most complete picture of our state’s infrastructure issues remains unmatched. This report represents a team effort toward the singular goal of making life better for all New Yorkers—better roads and a stronger, safer transportation system leads to greater opportunities for everyone,” said task force co-chairman Kevin Byrne, R-Mahopac. “If there was ever an issue to unite legislators from both political parties, this is it. We must, and will, fight tooth-and-nail to enact whole scale reform to the way our state approaches transportation funding before it’s too late.”

Among some of the conference proposals generated from the task force are:

  • Ensure funding parity between the upcoming state Department of Transportation and Metropolitan Transportation Authority Five-Year Capital Programs;
  • Increase CHIPS base aid by $100 million per year for five years and tie to the consumer price index to account for inflation and increasing material costs;
  • Enact legislation mandating that all funding for the DHBTF is to be used only for capital infrastructure, not for state operations or debt service payments;
  • Expand support for the Clean Water Investment Act (CWIA) to ensure long-term commitment to water and sewer infrastructure;
  • Establish a companion for the existing CHIPS program, offering financial assistance to local governments for drinking, storm and sewer water infrastructure, called the Water Infrastructure Investment Program (WIIPS);
  • Continue, strengthen and improve programs in the state DOT’s 2020-2024 Capital Program to help municipalities plan for improvements;
  • Establish a CHIPS-like formula for culverts based on the length of culverts within the municipality;
  • Require the DOT to release a report each year detailing the condition of state-owned roads and bridges;
  • Direct the DOT to develop a 20- to 30-year long-term transportation plan; and
  • Require the state DOT to submit its capital plan for approval.

“New York State is on the cusp of an infrastructure crisis; too many roads, bridges and sewers are in disrepair and the long-term investments needed to return them to form simply aren’t there. As I’ve said before: without safe and efficient ways to transport goods and resources, our economy will crumble, literally, from the ground up. Every infrastructure dollar matters,” Kolb said. “Through the tremendous efforts of this task force, our conference has a report with real, actionable solutions. I look forward to advocating for these proposals and solutions during the upcoming budget process and through the 2019 Legislative Session.”

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State to hold clean transportation listening sessions

cars highways city aerial-view-architecture-bridges-681335A number of state departments are seeking to engage residents and businesses through upcoming listening sessions on clean transportation.

The state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), Department of Transportation (DOT) and the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) will host seven listening sessions in locations across the state to help advance a cleaner, safer and more reliable low-carbon transportation future.

The catch? None will be held in Rochester.

Still, for those interested in attending, two sessions will be held Aug. 16 at Erie Community College in the Buffalo suburb of Williamsville.

“The state Department of Transportation is pleased to be part of this effort, joining with other agencies and stakeholders to identify transportation enhancements that will facilitate economic growth and improve air quality for decades to come,” said DOT Acting Commissioner Paul Karas in a statement.

The clean transportation listening sessions are designed to engage stakeholders with diverse interests and concerns in a discussion of the economic and social considerations for deploying clean transportation options, opportunities to enhance environmental and public health benefits and how low-carbon transportation can enhance quality of life and boost economic competitiveness.

“In addition to our full commitment to fight the extremely irresponsible rollbacks proposed by the federal government, we are working with other states and key stakeholders to maintain our stringent emission standards, ensuring we continue to protect the health of New Yorkers while attracting the clean energy jobs of tomorrow,” DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos said, referring to the recent Trump administration rollback on automotive fuel efficiency standards.

Seggos noted that emissions from cars and trucks are the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in New York, amounting to more than one-third of the state’s total.

“This policy discussion is crucial to maintaining momentum toward the governor’s ambitious goal of reducing greenhouse gases 40 percent by 2030,” Seggos said.

The listening sessions build on New York’s comprehensive, multi-agency clean transportation efforts to make electric vehicles (EV) more affordable and accessible. Gov. Andrew Cuomo recently announced a $250 million EV expansion initiative called Evolve NY. In addition to state funding, the program will seek to create private sector partnerships through 2025 to aggressively accelerate the adoption of electric vehicles statewide. Cuomo has said he wants to launch 10,000 EV charging stations by 2021.

“We have seen in New York an increasing number of consumers choosing cleaner transportation alternatives as part of the state’s comprehensive approach to tackling climate change and reducing greenhouse gas emissions,” NYSERDA President and CEO Alicia Barton said. “We look forward to working with interested stakeholders who have a commitment like we do to building a cleaner transportation infrastructure that will help preserve our environment for decades to come.”

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Airports receive infrastructure funding

aeroplane-aircraft-airplane-46148The Greater Rochester International Airport and Canandaigua Airport have been awarded U.S. Department of Transportation funding for improvements to ensure the longevity of the airports’ infrastructures.

Rochester’s airport will receive $3.01 million to rehabilitate a runway, an access road and a tarmac. Additionally, $150,000 was granted to conduct an environmental impact study to evaluate any potential impacts related to a proposed taxiway extension project.

The Canandaigua Airport will receive $644,000 to construct a snow removal equipment building to extend the life of the equipment by protecting it from adverse weather conditions.

“Our region’s airports play a considerable role in our daily lives. Whether it is moving cargo or people, we have to make sure they are functional and safe,” said Rep. Chris Collins, R-Clarence, whose district also includes parts of the Rochester region. “Not only do our airports get us from one place to another, they support millions of jobs across the nation and keep America competitive.”

The Niagara Falls International Airport and the Buffalo Niagara International Airport also have been slated to receive U.S. DOT funding.

“The airport infrastructure grants will provide these airports with the ability to make improvements that could ultimately increase air traffic,” Collins said.

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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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I-390 repaving project begins

rt-390-northbound-henrietta-1The state Department of Transportation on Tuesday will begin a $1.8 million paving project on a busy stretch of Interstate 390 in Henrietta.

Nearly five miles of the expressway will be repaved in both the northbound and southbound directions from the Thruway in Henrietta to the Interstate 590 interchange in Brighton.

“Our highways are key to supporting the local economy, especially in the Rochester area,” DOT Acting Commissioner Paul Karas said in a statement this week. “These pavement repairs—made using a unique micro-paving technique—will create a smooth and safe riding surface, which will facilitate commerce and mobility for one of the most important gateways to Monroe County.”

Single lane closures were set to begin on Wednesday and the project is slated for completion in late fall. Upgraded pavement markings will be installed and the I-390 northbound ramp at Route 253 will be restriped to improve traffic flow.

“Investing in our infrastructure is vital to our community’s continued growth, and I am pleased to see this project move forward,” said state Assemblyman Harry Bronson, D-Rochester. “These updates to our transportation system will lead to safer driving conditions, easier commutes and make our region even more welcoming to visitors and tourists who support our local businesses.”

In keeping with Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Drivers First Initiative to minimize construction impacts to the traveling public, most of the work will be performed during the overnight hours. Single and double-lane closures are prohibited during peak weekday travel hours. Contractors originally planned to begin the work this week but have delayed the start until after the Memorial Day holiday.

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New York plans $100 million in transportation enhancements

action-adult-athletes-310983The State of New York is making $100 million available for transportation funding to support and enhance community growth and revitalize downtowns.

The funds, made available to the state through the Federal Highway Administration and awarded through the state Department of Transportation, will support efforts of municipalities to meet the requirements of the Clean Air Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Projects may include the construction of pedestrian and bicycle facilities, recreational trails, safe routes to schools, as well as community improvements such as historic preservation and projects that reduce congestion and gas emissions.

“New York continues to build stronger, safer, and cleaner communities by investing in projects that promote thriving downtowns,” Gov. Cuomo said in a statement. “By securing this federal funding and making it available to our local communities, we can help ensure that New York will continue to attract businesses, generate new jobs and encourage economic activity while helping meet our goal of a cleaner, greener and safer Empire State for all.”

The application deadline is Aug. 16, and projects will be selected through a competitive solicitation process that rates proposals based on criteria that includes public benefit, air quality improvement and finance or delivery innovation.

Eligible project activities include the addition of accessible sidewalks; construction of new bike and pedestrian facilities; preservation and conversion of abandoned railroad corridors for trail use; enhancement of traffic signals that improve traffic flow; and establishment of travel demand programs that shift traffic demand to non-peak hours or other transportation modes.

“As an almost daily bicyclist, I know how important it is to have access to alternative transportation options,” said Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul. “With this significant funding, we can invest in the future of our bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure in communities across the state. We are also focusing on improving accessibility for those with disabilities and reducing emissions to help combat climate change. This transportation funding will go a long way toward creating a brighter future for the state of New York.”

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DOT prepares for work on two canal bridges

Fairport Lift Bridge Photo courtesy of Central Library of Rochester and Monroe County.
Fairport Lift Bridge
(Photo courtesy of Central Library of Rochester and Monroe County.)

The state Department of Transportation will change the timeline for rehabilitating the Erie Canal Lift Bridge in Fairport as a result of community concerns.

The $13.7 million investment will extend the service life of the canal bridges along Route 250 in the Village of Fairport and Route 259 in the Village of Spencerport. The historic Fairport lift bridge was originally scheduled to close the first week of July 2019 and remain closed until the summer of 2020, arguably Fairport’s busiest time of the year.

As a result of discussions with community leaders and residents in both villages, the state DOT has agreed to close the Route 250 bridge in Fairport no earlier than September 3, 2019. Additionally, following discussions with residents and village officials in Spencerport, the DOT will change the alignment of the north and southbound approach of the Route 259 bridge to improve visibility and sight distance for motorists.

Adjusting the timeline for the Fairport lift bridge will benefit local business owners and summer tourism by alleviating the impact of the closure down to one summer or festival season rather than two, DOT officials said in a statement this week.

The closure date for the Route 259 bridge has not been altered, but discussions with village officials are ongoing.

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Rochester’s Access 390 Project named 2017 Project of the Year

Kevin Bush (left/center) and Howard Ressel (right/center) of NYSDOT Finger Lakes Region accepting the award on behalf of the department. (Photo provided)
Kevin Bush (left/center) and Howard Ressel (right/center) of NYSDOT Finger Lakes Region accepting the award on behalf of the department. (Photo provided)

Rochester’s Access 390 Project in Brighton has earned statewide accolades. The $70 million state Department of Transportation project was honored this week as 2017 Project of the Year from the American Public Works Association New York State Chapter.

The project—which was identified in 2011 as a priority by the Finger Lakes Regional Economic Development Council—was comprised of a series of five projects that helped modernize the Interstate 390 and Routes 15 and 15A interchanges in the town of Brighton. The project also included improvements on adjacent roadways, including Kendrick, East River, West Henrietta and East Henrietta Roads.

“Thanks to the investments made and the support of Gov. Cuomo, Access 390 has helped connect more people to essential businesses and universities in Rochester,” Acting DOT Commissioner Paul Karas said. “Being named Project of the Year is a testament to the hard work of our staff in the Finger Lakes Region and the people who came together to make the project work. NYSDOT will continue to build on this success in an effort to improve safety and access for everyone who depends on us every day.”

Nearly 30,000 motorists travel the Access 390 roadways daily, officials noted, and the project has helped improve access for local destinations such as Monroe Community College, CityGate, the University of Rochester and Monroe Community Hospital. The project was started in 2012 and was completed last November.

“I-390 is an important commuter route for so many Monroe County residents, providing access to many of our area’s largest employers, universities and colleges, health care facilities and retail corridors,” state Sen. Joseph Robach, R-Greece, said in a statement. “In receiving the American Public Works Association New York State Chapter’s 2017 Project of the Year Award, it shows the importance of this investment that improved driving safety for residents and visitors of Monroe County, while upgrading our region’s transportation infrastructure.”

Work on the project also included the addition of a modern roundabout at East River and Kendrick roads, along with paving improvements and upgraded markings, signs and guide rail. More than a dozen new LED high mast lights were installed along the highway system.

“The City of Rochester is honored, but not surprised, that Access 390 has been recognized. This multifaceted project is a perfect example of how infrastructure investments can improve daily life and stimulate jobs and economic growth,” Mayor Lovely Warren said. “This project has improved safety, aesthetics and access to a vital corridor of our city, making it easier for residents and visitors alike to get to jobs and shops at College Town and CityGate, as well as to important employers like the University of Rochester and Monroe Community College.”

Warren added that Access 390 was a “welcome boost” to the region’s efforts to create more jobs, safe neighborhoods and better educational opportunities for residents.

The APWA award was presented at the New York Chapter Conference and Awards Banquet in Buffalo April 12. DOT Regional Director Kevin Bush accepted the award on the DOT’s behalf.

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Marsh Road bridge reconstruction begins

Construction has begun more than a year earlier than expected on the Marsh Road bridge over the Erie Canal in Bushnell’s Basin.

The state Department of Transportation announced Thursday it has begun a $2.2 million project to rehabilitate the bridge carrying Marsh Road over the Erie Canal and Erie Canal Heritage Trail. Funding for the project was included in Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s $1 billion, five-year Bridge NY initiative, which provides dedicated funding for the rehabilitation and replacement of state and locally owned bridges.

The project is designed to enhance public safety by restoring critical access from the Bushnell’s Basin Fire Department on the south side of the bridge, with a mostly residential area on the north side of the bridge. The crossing carries more than 3,200 vehicles each day, officials said in a news release.

“This significant rehabilitation work will make the Marsh Road canal crossing a dependable, safe way for people to get where they need to go and ensures first responders have a fast, reliable connection to both sides of the community,” DOT acting commissioner Paul Karas said.

The construction will extend the service life of the bridge by more than 20 years and includes replacing the floor system and lower section of the truss with higher-grade galvanized steel components. The north and south approaches will be widened to allow vehicles to better see if there is oncoming traffic on the bridge.

The bridge is currently posted for eight tons; fire trucks previously have had to detour around the bridge to reach neighborhoods on the other side of the canal. Upon completion, the bridge will be able to carry all legal loads and the northern portion of the community will have reliable access to critical emergency services, officials said.

During construction, traffic will be detoured to Route 96, Interstate 490 and Route 31. The project is expected to continue through the  fall.

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Irondequoit, state DOT complete land swap for town DPW headquarters

The Town of Irondequoit and the state Department of Transportation have swapped land that will allow the town to rebuild its Department of Public Works campus in a new location.

The Town of Irondequoit has received a 12-acre property to house a new DPW facility to replace its former building on Kings Highway that was destroyed in a Christmas Eve fire in 2016. The new property is off East Ridge Road, southeast of Interstate 590 and Route 104.

In exchange, the DOT has received $4,550 and a 10.9-acre parcel south of East Ridge Road off Route 590 to use as a staging area for highway maintenance operations and emergency response. Pricing was based upon fair market value determined by an independent appraisal.

“At Gov. Cuomo’s direction, New York State is working more closely with localities than ever before, cooperatively sharing services and responding to emergencies for the good of our communities,” state DOT Acting Commissioner Paul Karas said in a statement. “Helping the Town of Irondequoit put surplus state property to good use for a new Department of Public Works facility is a smart, common sense investment that will benefit the town for years to come.”

Irondequoit Supervisor Dave Seeley noted that immediately after the fire, state partners—particularly the DOT—worked diligently with the town to provide a new home for its DPW.

Officials said the new property will enable the town to center its highway maintenance operations away from the crowded Town Hall parcel, improving traffic safety and easing maneuverability for heavy equipment. The site also will enable the town to better assist in emergency preparedness.

“This land swap is a true win-win for the state and the Town of Irondequoit,” Sen. Rich Funke, R-Perinton, said in a statement. “This will open up the old space on the Town Hall campus, making it safer and easier to access the library, police department, courts and town offices.”

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N.Y. to remove disputed road signs

i-love-nyNew York State officials, under pressure from the federal government, have agreed to remove hundreds of “I Love NY” signs along highways statewide ahead of a September deadline that would have cost the state $14 million had it not complied.

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 amounted to a $14 million penalty, Hendrickson wrote in her letter.

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

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 last week.

“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.

On Friday state DOT acting commissioner Paul Karas and Thruway Authority acting executive director Matthew Driscoll said in a joint statement that the signs were coming down because the campaign had concluded.

“As the current campaign and signs are entering their fifth year, this message has run its useful course and we already plan to launch a new ‘I Love NY’ campaign this summer to support our tourism industry,” Karas and Driscoll said in the statement.

The new campaign will be “NY has it all!”

“Existing materials will be reused but, as the signs will be redesigned for the new campaign, we will consult with FHWA during this process,” Karas and Driscoll said in the statement. “It will be a new campaign launched for the summer tourism cycle and as such must be concluded before the September FHWA deadline anyway.”

Karas and Driscoll noted that since the “I love NY” campaign began, the number of tourists to New York State has increased 18 percent, and the direct economic impact of tourism on the state “has skyrocketed by more than 20 percent.”

“From Greater Niagara to Long Island, ‘I Love NY’ signs have helped get motorists off the roads and into mom-and-pop restaurants, shops and historic destinations,” Karas and Driscoll said. “This increased traffic has in turn boosted local economies that aren’t typical tourist attractions.”

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