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Rensselaer Falls bridge opening delayed

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RENSSELAER FALLS — Residents on either side of the County Route 14 bridge will have to wait another month before they can use it to cross the Oswegatchie River.

Completion of the bridge, which was scheduled to open to traffic today, has been delayed until the end of December, St. Lawrence County Highway Superintendent Toby M. Bogart said Thursday.

Contractor Tioga Construction, Herkimer, asked for an extension Wednesday after workers discovered additional bracing was need for a sewer main that spans the bridge.

“We need more bracing for the pipe so when it does get tested, it doesn’t shift,” Mr. Bogart said.

While the pipe runs underneath the bridge, Mr. Bogart said, the necessary repair equipment will have to sit on top of the bridge.

“Crews also need to be able to go under the bridge and apply additional steel to repair the bridge,” he said.

The crew asked for an extension until Jan. 31, but Mr. Bogart said it is hoping to open the bridge by Christmas.

“It’s getting close to winter, so we’re trying to make sure the process goes as fast possible to allow people free use of the bridge when it is open,” he said.

The project, which began more than six months ago, involved demolishing the old truss-style bridge that had corroded over time and replacing it with a one-pier steel structure with a concrete deck. The approximately $3 million project will be 80 percent paid for by federal funds, 15 percent by state funds and 5 percent by the county.

Mayor Jeffrey W. Dollinger, who said he was not informed about the extension, said Thursday that he is frustrated over the county’s lack of communication about the bridge’s continued closure.

“Unfortunately, the county doesn’t find it important to give us any information,” Mr. Dollinger said. “They had a public forum in the fall of 2010, but that is the last time I had spoken with anyone about this project. We are out in the dark. Many are probably still expecting to use the bridge Friday.”

With the bridge out, some residents must travel an additional seven miles.

“It does not affect me on a personal note, but I feel for the people who have to drive that extra miles,” Mr. Dollinger said. “People get frustrated with the extra mileage.”

With winter coming, Mr. Dollinger said, he hopes the project is completed before any major snowfall hits.

”I think it’s not just residents that are affected,” he said. “If you start thinking of emergency services, school buses and snowplows — it can create a dangerous situation.”

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