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Heuvelton-Rensselaer Falls Road reopens

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County Route 15 between Rensselaer Falls and Heuvelton was reopened to motorists Monday after flooding exposed cracks in the road’s structure nearly three months ago.

Pipes underneath the highway between Johnson and Kelly roads corroded and collapsed in April. The St. Lawrence County Highway Department discovered the problem while assessing flood damage on several of the county’s roads.

“The failure of the structure happened during the flood, however, there were serious structural integrity issues with the two large culverts prior to their failure,” county Highway Superintendent Donald R. Chambers said Monday.

The duel-pipe structure was replaced by large single elliptical pipe, allowing water to flow more freely into the Oswegatchie River.

Acquiring state Department of Environmental Conservation permits and spring bass spawning also apparently delayed the project.

“It was an unplanned replacement. Therefore we had to procure the materials and do the design work and obtain the necessary environmental permits, which takes quite a bit of time,” Mr. Chambers said.

With the road closed, motorists had to travel to Rensselaer Falls from Heuvelton using alternative routes.

But while the extended travel time only equates to about 4 extra miles, Connie S. Palmer of Rensselaer Falls said the detour still hurt some businesses.

“It’s one of the main roads used by workers traveling to Corning,” Mrs. Palmer said. “They would stop for breakfast or for lunch at Chapin’s Country Store and stop on their way to Corning. People from Heuvelton might also rethink coming to McAllister’s Liquor Store.”

Mrs. Palmer, who also serves as a volunteer during Rensselaer Falls Fire Department Bingo nights, said the department’s coffers have also suffered.

The department has lost between 20 and 30 Bingo participants, Mrs. Palmer said.

“Bingo is the department’s major fundraiser which helps them purchase supplies for trucks and equipment,” she said.

Doors for Bingo will be open at 5:30 p.m. today. Bingo begins at 7 p.m.

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