• November 13, 2017
  • 4:00 pm
  • Freeville Fire Station

The open house date has passed, but info on the project is still available in this notice.

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The replacement of the Route 38 bridge at the four corners in Freeville has been on the “to-do list” of the New York State Department of Transportation (DoT) for more than a decade. The project has been repeatedly delayed (apparently for budgetary reasons), but is now tentatively scheduled to be undertaken during the 2019 construction season.

Some background:

When the DoT’s project design team made an on-site visit last spring in advance of presenting a bridge design to the community at a planned April Open House (they had hoped then to schedule construction for 2018), we made a case for including at least one sidewalk on the new bridge. While the designers were somewhat skeptical that state funding could be found for such a “pedestrian accommodation,” they agreed that sidewalks would be a very desirable and useful addition to the project, and postponed the Open House so that they could develop a new project design.

The results of that redesign work far exceeded our expectations. We learned in early September that thanks in part to a lobbying effort on the Village’s behalf by the Tompkins County Legislature (Mike Lane, Chair) and the Ithaca-Tompkins County Transportation Council (Fernando de Aragon, Staff Director), the state had allocated an additional $1.1 million to the project (previously budgeted at $1.5 million), and that the project’s scope had been expanded to include sidewalks on both sides of the bridge that will extend some 75 yards north of the creek on Route 38, to Brooklyn Road along the eastern side of the highway, and on the western side to the trailhead for the recently opened lower trail in the Genung Nature Preserve. In addition, sidewalks and curbing around three of the four corners at the intersection will be newly installed or replaced.

These improvements promise to dramatically transform the look of the four corners neighborhood, while providing safe pedestrian access to and from Brooklyn Road and the nature preserve. We have also been assured that the street and sidewalk upgrades to the southeast quadrant of the intersection will solve the drainage problems that have been plaguing residents on the east side of Railroad Street for years.

The DoT will present the project to the public at an Open House at the Freeville fire station this coming Monday, November 13th, from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. (you may have seen the discreet electronic signs advertising the meeting on Railroad Street and Main Street…).

Among the issues that the DoT design team will be prepared to address at the Open House is a tentative plan for a detour around the work zone for traffic on Route 38. Because of the deteriorated condition of the existing bridge, it will not be possible to “stage” the construction of the new bridge, making it necessary to close both lanes of 38 for the entire five-month construction period. And despite what it says on page 2 of the attached information sheets from the DoT, the option to build a temporary vehicular bridge at the site–which would add approximately $500,000 to the project cost–has essentially been taken off the table. (A temporary pedestrian bridge will be built on the downstream side of the bridge.)

The road closure will impact emergency services, public transit, school bus routing and regional truck traffic, as well as the hundreds of local residents and commuters who use Route 38 daily. The proposed 7.5-mile detour along Fall Creek Road and Peruville Road will add an estimated 10-minute delay for through traffic on 38 (see page 4 of the attachment).

We are currently exploring with the DoT options for the construction of a temporary garage structure to house one of the Freeville Fire Department’s engines on the north side of Fall Creek during the construction period.

It appears that following the completion of the bridge and highway work it may be necessary for the Village to permanently prohibit on-street parking on the north side of Main Street in the vicinity of the four corners. This change would directly impact the properties at 2-4 Main Street (the former Waterwheel Cafe/Tile-Tec building) and 6 Main Street; on-street parking would still be permitted from 8 Main Street westward to the village line. (A public hearing will be held before any changes are made to village parking laws.)

While we have some 18 months before construction is scheduled to start, the design phase of the project is slated to be completed early next year. We hope that anyone with questions or concerns about any aspect of this project will be able to attend the Open House next Monday.

David Fogel
Mayor, Village of Freeville

Bridge replacement information sheets

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