By GIB SNYDER
OBSERVER City Editor
It's been a long time coming but the end is in site for the construction of the Millennium Parkway in Dunkirk.
OBSERVER Photos by Gib Snyder
A worker is up to his neck as he helps ready a connection of piping under Roberts Road recently.
The roadway, which will provide a better turning lane from Route 60 to Talcott Street, an upgrade to Talcott Street, work on Roberts Road, along with a new road from Roberts to the intersection of Middle Road and Progress Drive near the Nestle Purina plant, is scheduled to be completed by October 2014.
In the mean time, after a summer of one-way traffic and delays, Talcott Street is back to two-way traffic, albeit on a road that needs plenty of work.
John Bremmer from the Chautauqua County Department of Public Facilities is the project manager for the Millennium Parkway. He was asked about the status of the project and what people should expect.
"The contractor plans on completing all work this season prior to Thanksgiving, so basically the way things look now is how they're going to be through the winter," he said. "That portion of the roadway on South Roberts between the end of Talcott down to Courtney, or where the Norfolk Southern tracks cross, there's quite a few new storm sewer culverts that are being installed in there. We did have a few conflicts with the water mains, so I know we had to replace some of the water mains also."
Bremmer said a major delay has been moving utility poles along Talcott Street.
"Because Talcott is widening out a bit the utility poles had to be moved. They were moved right away but there's other utilities on them besides National Grid, who owns the poles," he explained. "We've been waiting for the other utilities to move their lines. I'm not certain if they're all moved yet, it's been about a week and a half since we've had a meeting up there. I think all utilities have been moved now but the thing is we're at the point in the season where we really can't open up the road and do any earth work this time of year. It would be a big muddy mess."
When it is complete, the Parkway will provide a new and/or rebuilt two-lane stretch of roadway from Route 60 to the intersection near Purina.
"Vehicles will come down Talcott from Route 60 and will turn right as they do now, but there will be a sweeping horizontal curve to the left, then there will be a new intersection with a traffic signal a little bit north of the National Grid substation located on Roberts Road," Bremmer explained. "Then it's a pretty much straight run to where we stopped the last project there on Middle and Progress."
Bremmer said another surprise was soft spots under a railroad embankment that had to be dug out and replaced with rock to firm it up.
A milestone was the replacement of a culvert where the Parkway is going to cross Scott Creek, located about 300 feet from where the project will end.
"We've installed that box culvert, we've replaced a water line from Route 60 to Franklin Street, replaced a 200 feet section of sanitary sewer along Talcott in the vicinity of Lincoln Avenue; installed all the new catch basins and storm sewer on the project. We've demolished the two structures where Talcott intersects Route 60, the old Speedy Auto Cover and the residence on the north side so we have a proper turning radius so the semis can make that turn.
"So basically everything's ready, once those utility poles are moved, to start the earth work, where we actually excavate the old road bed, place the new sub base gravel, pour concrete curbs and gutters and the paving. We're all set to do that in the spring.
"We gave them until Oct. 31 of next year, but if it's early spring and they can get out there in April or so I would expect maybe we could have things, for the most part, buttoned up by August or September."
He was asked if the project, with a bid price of some $6.2 million, was on track as far as its budget considerations.
"We did put contingencies in the project, some extra to cover any unforeseen work that we come upon and we have gone into that a bit," he replied. "It's hard to say, I think by the time everything is done we could be over that a little bit, but not a significant amount."
D & H Excavating from Arcade is the general contractor for the roadway, which will link the New York State Thruway, Route 60, New York Route 5, and the Chadwick Bay Industrial Park in the city of Dunkirk and the towns of Dunkirk and Sheridan.
Dunkirk Mayor Anthony J. Dolce was asked about the progress of the project from the city's perspective.
"From a timeline standpoint, yes. I think we all share some concerns on how it's looking currently and the fact it's going to remain that way throughout the winter," he replied. "It's obviously not in the best condition, which I understand for the most part, but the residents, a lot of people walk in that area, and we just urge them to use caution. It's not the best situation, it won't be this winter, but things are on target and it will be completed next year."
As for the city's role in the project, Dolce said DPW Director Tony Gugino works with the county helping address the city's concerns.
"It is a county project and we are taking a back seat, So I guess our involvement has been very minimal in the grand scope of things," he added.
Dolce was asked about the effect on traffic and business development the Parkway might have.
"That's the hope, that's why they're doing all this. We hope that it leads to development of the Edgewood property," he replied. "We have been in talks with the IDA and a potential developer so there is hope there. There is hope it will bring jobs and make the road worthwhile."
Councilwoman Stacy Szukala represents the city's Fourth Ward, the site of the project in the city.
"I would have preferred Maple Avenue to Roberts be done before moving on to Roberts extension, that's my thoughts, but I'm not an engineer, so I guess they have reasons for their timeline," she stated. "I will be anxious for spring to come and progress to continue. Long term for Fourth Ward, I don't see much of a change. Trucks are already here frequenting Cott, and the way I see it, if there are trucks, that means our businesses are doing well and people are working."
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