By J.L. Rebeor
FULTON, NY – The New York state Route 3 Broadway Bridge rehabilitation remains in winter hiatus, but despite the delay of one construction season, the project, sidewalk shuttle service and traffic patterns are moving along better than expected.
Department of Transportation spokesman Gene Cilento said Jan. 17 that the comprehensive bridge rebuild is going as planned.
“Work shut down for the winter with traffic maintained in the new southern two lanes and the pedestrian shuttle provided weekdays 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturdays 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.,” Cilento said.
He noted that once the worst part of winter has passed new concrete on the north side of the bridge will be poured.
After it has cured the sidewalk and rail installation will begin.
“Upon the resumption of work when the weather breaks (in) late March, early April – possibly sooner, or later, the deck pans – aluminum forms that will hold the concrete, and reinforcing steel bars will be set and the new concrete deck poured on the north side,” he added.
The Broadway Bridge, where state Route 3 crosses the Oswego River, is among the busiest traffic points in the city according to 2010 DOT reports.
The span connects the city’s three main thoroughfares – state Route 48 which runs on the west side of the waterway and Route 481 running on the east to Route 3, the arterial that feeds traffic between Central New York and the North Country.
Prior to starting the $12.2 million reconstruction project, the state estimated that more than 13,000 cars a day go through the Route 3 and Route 48 intersection on the west side of the river, and more than 21,000 cars a day drive along Route 3 at the Route 481 intersection on the east side.
When the plan was introduced in September 2010, it was anticipated the bridge rebuild would take two construction seasons to complete.
Work was originally slated to begin in the spring of 2012, to be completed before the end of 2013.
Although the project actually got under way in August 2012, it was still anticipated at that time the repairs would be complete before the end of 2013.
Two lanes on the bridge have remained open through most of the construction.
The bridge is open to pedestrian traffic in the spring, summer and fall months, but the DOT chose to close the bridge during the winter due to safety concerns.
A free shuttle service is provided every day except Sunday for pedestrians to cross.
Cilento did not state a specific reason for the one-season delay.
“The project should be complete by the end of July 2014, unless the winter lingers on and on,” he said.
Fulton Mayor Ron Woodward said the state seems to be moving forward as planned and he is “hopeful and confident” that all four lanes and both sidewalks will be open by midsummer.
As for the sidewalk closure during the winter months, the mayor said his office has fielded some questions about the shuttle service.
“The city doesn’t own (the Broadway Bridge) the State of New York does,” he said. “Their contractor has to contract for a shuttle bus run.”
While he is not aware of any major problems, Cilento said anyone with questions about the shuttle service can contact him directly and he would relay messages out to the construction office on site.
The DOT spokesman can be reached by calling 428-5351.
Meanwhile, the Fulton Police Department reported last week that overall traffic continues to flow smoothly.
Lieutenant Jason Delano said over the course of the previous year-and-a-half residents have adapted their driving habits, using the Oneida Street Bridge and pedestrians seem to be using the shuttle service.
“It’s not been a big problem,” he said.
Delano noted Fulton police did arrest a man in the early morning hours of Dec. 7 and charged him with disorderly conduct after he was observed allegedly walking eastbound in the eastbound lane of traffic across the bridge.
Police reported at that time that a vehicle, also headed eastbound, was forced to swerve into the westbound lane of traffic to avoid striking the man.
With half of the bridge closed down, Delano said, “It’s very narrow and when you put a person on there with two lanes of traffic it is very dangerous.”
The lieutenant added that anyone attempting to walk across the bridge could also be ticketed for failure to obey a traffic control device.
The one lingering concern, according to Delano, is the movement of traffic traveling west across the bridge attempting to turn left and head south on West First Street at Route 48.
“For a long time people were making that left hand turn that is prohibited,” the police lieutenant said. “Even though there’s three signs there … we’ve written hundreds of tickets for that violation. But it’s gotten much better.”
A temporary light installed one block west of the bridge at West Second Street allows left hand turns.
Drivers can also turn left a little further west at the West Fourth Street light.
Cilento said work completed during the past construction season included substructure concrete repairs, steel girder placement on the north side of the bridge, placement of all secondary superstructure steel – the connections between beams, along with pier and abutment concrete repairs. Utility line installations were also completed.
When it’s done, the rehabilitated bridge will provide two 12-foot travel lanes with two-foot shoulders in each direction, and nearly sox-foot-wide sidewalks along the north and south span. The new bridge also features decorative bridge railing.
Woodward said once the Broadway Bridge is complete, residents would need to turn their attention to the other bridge, which is city-owned and hasn’t had any major maintenance in 30 years.
“We’re anticipating in the next three to five years of redecking the Oneida Street Bridge,” he said. “I think that was rebuilt in 1983 or 1984. I was on the Common Council at the time and was one of the first people to walk across it.”
The mayor noted the city has already applied for federal funds to assist with the anticipated project.