Albion officials will ask state DOT for signage in village while bridge closed
Village urged to remind community that ‘Downtown is still open’ during bridge construction
ALBION – Village officials said they would ask the state Department of Transportation to post detour signs in the village when the Main Street lift bridge is closed for about 18 months.
The bridge is set for a major overhaul and will be closed starting Oct. 17. The DOT is doing major repairs to the Albion and Brockport lift bridges on Main Street in a combined project that will cost $28 million.
Karen Sawicz, owner of Lake Country Media which includes the Lake Country Pennysaver and Orleans Hub, urged Albion village officials to post detours in the village to help drivers navigate through the village and not just bypass the downtown area during the project.
She also suggested a temporary stop sign at the intersection of Ingersoll Street and East State Street. That area will see a big increase in traffic when the bridge is closed. The Ingersoll lift bridge will become the main outlet to cross the canal.
“We need signage in the Village of Albion,” she said during a forum on Wednesday evening at the Village Hall.
The DOT is planning to post detours on state roads, but wasn’t planning to post signs to help drivers navigate in the village, said Jay Pahura, the village Department of Public Works superintendent.
The village doesn’t post detour signs in the village for state projects, Pahura said, because then the village assumes liability for anything that happens because of that detour. The DOT also has standards for the size and spacing of detour signs.
“We don’t do it because it’s not our project,” Pahura said.
But he said he would ask the DOT to put up more signs in the village while the bridge is closed.
Sawicz said the DOT should pay for the signs and assume any liability.
“The state needs to step up and help these smaller villages,” she said.
The village was also urged to have signs up that “Downtown is Open” while the bridge is shut down.
Wednesday’s meeting was the first village-led discussion on the upcoming project. There will be a “Bridge Brainstorming” meeting on Monday at Hoag Library from 5:30 to 7 p.m. to discuss ideas to help businesses and the community while the bridge is closed.
The village will then have another meeting next Wednesday at the Village Hall at 6 p.m. about easing the impact on the community from the bridge being closed. The village is looking for residents, business owners and property owners to be on a committee coordinate projects on Main Street and also connect with the village and DOT about concerns in the downtown and ways to lessen the impact of the closure.
Sue Starkweather Miller suggested the village allow the merchants to have sandwich signs and bigger signs during the closure. She said the village should consider backing off some of the codes for signs to help the merchants through the bridge closure. She also suggested signs be up in the community, reminding people that the downtown is open for business.
Part of Main Street will be blocked off near the south and north ends of the bridge, and contractors will be parking near the bridge with some supplies kept close to the site.
Sawicz said she doesn’t want to see nearby merchants to lose parking to the work crews. The DOT needs to emphasize that bridge workers don’t take up private parking spots for businesses and property owners in the downtown.
Some of the businesses – Krantz, Morrison Realty, PathStone – won’t have access to the parking in front of their buildings because the DOT will block off part of the street for a staging area.
Village officials during Wednesday’s meeting were urged to install signs identifying the municipal parking lots on Main and Bank streets, as well as a lot behind the fire hall at the end of Platt Street so people can see there are lots of options for public parking.
The village was also asked to see if the DOT could move back the closure of the bridge until work is very close to getting started. The public will be frustrated if the bridge is closed and not much happens with it for several weeks, even months.
Mayor Angel Javier Jr. and Deputy Mayor Joyce Riley said the Village Board is open to suggestions and will take concerns to the DOT about the project.
“We understand there will be some hardships and we want to alleviate some of that for us,” Riley said.