The town board hosted their second public hearing of the week on Wednesday evening beginning at 6pm. This meeting had everything! There were handouts and poster boards with plans. DOT and County officials were in attendance. 14 members of the public were in attendance and they were for sure the coolest attendees of any public hearing in Andover ever.*
Highway Superintendent, Jim Frungillo, opened the meeting and then introduced the LaBella's Associate Chris Bayer who presented the project. Chris showed off the plans for replacing the town bridge which is expected to start construction in April of 2023. The town bridge has been down to one lane since the spring when there was extensive flood damage. These plans include widening the current roadway by 6 feet which should allow trucks to turn from Rochambeau more easily. The detour for that side of town will go out Dyke to the overpass, but there will be a temporary footbridge to allow pedestrian traffic to continue during construction.
Chris highlighted that the new bridge will have a concrete deck that allows the bridge to be thinner and therefor gives the creek a little more clearance and it will be smooth underneath so as not to trap debris during flood events. They will also be adding some contraptions that I missed the name of upstream of the bridge which will help to prevent sediment build up and erosion under the bridge. Sounded like a good idea overall.
After the presentation the community was invited to comment. The primary concerns were pedestrian traffic on the bridge. At present the bridge has a guardrail separating vehicle traffic from the pedestrian walk way. The new proposed bridge does not have a physical barrier. This was explained as necessary to allow a better turn radius for truck or trailer traffic turning. However the public (and myself) were concerned that with the amount of children, elderly persons, and everyone else crossing the bridge having pedestrians walk on what is essentially the shoulder of the road may cause a safety issue.
Chris and the DOT representative both stated that visibility for both drivers and pedestrians on the bridge would be very good and make the combined traffic situation safe. The 8 year olds that I know definitely pay attention to their surroundings and visibility everywhere they walk.** Superintendent Frungillo did state that he was open to suggestions and that he would continue to seek solutions.
Additional concerns were for the diverted traffic during construction and the safety of Dyke Rd. Superintendent Frungillo did state that Rochambeau is scheduled to be oil and graveled this coming summer which should put the road in better condition for the detour. Members of the public felt that guardrails in certain areas might make the road safer for the increased traffic. Jim did say he'd assess the area.
Another concern during the construction is emergency vehicle access to that side of town. The detour is about 3 miles which would add additional time to emergency response times. Jim stated that he would be extending an invitation to the Fire and Rescue folks to leave an ambulance and firetruck at the town barn on Rochambeau to increase response time if they so choose. As the ambulance and firefighters are independent entities that would be up to them to decide. However, Jim expressed an interest in doing some practice runs to see the bridge being out will effect response times.
Overall the meeting would have been an 8.5/10, but alas the meeting was 62 minutes long, which is 2 minutes too long which means it is officially a 0/10. The meeting was very informative. It was nice that the DOT and Allegany County sent representatives to address the concerns of the community. Would have been cool if Gus was there, but you can't have everything.
If you have questions or concerns you can mail them to:
Chris Bayer, PE
300 State Street Suite 201
Rochester, NY 14614
You can also bug Jim about it if you see him out and about during his work day. I mean he probably won't blow you off entirely if you chat him up about it outside of work, but if he's out with his wife for Valentine's day or something maybe use some discretion. You could probably call or email him also if you're into that kind of thing.
*Just an opinion. If you weren't there no one is saying you're not cool...just that you could have been cooler if you had come.
**This is sarcasm. The 8 year olds I know are not amazing at spatial awareness.