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GTC supports bridge removal, blocked off Albion street

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 20 June 2014 at 12:00 am

ROCHESTER – The regional transportation council that doles out state and federal funding for infrastructure projects would support tearing out the Clarendon Street bridge in Albion and then blocking off that section of the street.

The Genesee Transportation Council met on Thursday and the board said it would support directing federal and state dollars to the village bridge removal. The GTC previously wanted the funds to be used for taking out the 40-year-old bridge over the railroad tracks and putting in a new one.

The costs for that project jumped by about $600,000 with most of that increase falling on the village’s shoulders. The Village Board expected the state and federal governments to pay 95 percent of the total bridge project costs of about $2 million.

The federal and state share did not go up with the latest cost estimates for the project because there isn’t more money to direct to the project, said Rich Perrin, executive director of the GTC.

The village will now see its share go up from about $100,000 to $700,000. Village Board members say that is too much for village taxpayers. The board prefers removing the bridge and blocking off that section of the street. That would keep the village’s share at 5 percent of the project.

“The board members are sympathetic to the village’s situation because they have all been there,” Perrin said about the GTC board.

Other municipalities have started bridge replacement projects only to see the final costs spike after years of working on design, legal issues and property acquisitions.

The decision to either replace the bridge or remove it will rest with the Village Board, not the regional transportation council, Perrin said. The village needs to make a decision by the end of June or it risks losing the federal and state dollars for the project, he said.

The Village Board had a public meeting on June 11. Some residents expressed concern that a blocked off street would hurt local businesses on the east side of the village, while adding drive time and congestion in that part of the community.

Much of the traffic from Clarendon Street would likely be shifted to McKinistry Street. Bergmann Associates, the village’s consultant on the project, said the blocked off bridge would add 5 seconds to leaving the intersection at McKinistry and Route 31, up from an average of 11 seconds in peak congestion to 16 seconds.

If the village chooses to remove the bridge and block off that section of the street, there will be federal and state money left over. The GTC board agreed on Thursday to direct those funds to the preliminary design of replacing the River Street bridge in the city of Batavia that goes over Tonawanda Creek.