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Rensselaer Falls bridge opening delayed

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RENSSELAER FALLS – Village residents on either side of the County Route 14 Bridge will have to wait another month before the they can cross the Oswegatchie River.

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

Contractors Tioga Construction, Herkimer, have 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,” said Mr. Bogart.

While the piping 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,” Mr. Bogart said.

The crew asked for an extension until Jan. 31, but Mr. Bogart said they are 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,” said Mr. Bogart.

The project began over six months ago, involved demolishing the old truss-style bridge, which 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 personally about the extension, said Thursday 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,” said Mr. Dollinger. “They had 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 gets 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 snow plows — it can create a dangerous situation.”

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