By Stephen Williams
CP Rail will replace its Nott Street bridge over the next month, a project that will close a busy section of Nott Street where it merges with Erie Boulevard.
The work will detour about 12,000 vehicles per day, but the end result will be a longer bridge that will improve sight lines at the Erie Boulevard roundabout and make the area safer, city officials said.
The new bridge will be 120 feet long, about twice the length of the existing bridge. That will allow construction of an additional turn lane under the bridge as Nott Street drivers approach the new roundabout.
“I think the end product is going to be terrific,” said City Engineer Chris Wallin. “The roundabout will be a great gateway to the city.”
The bridge is expected to be finished before the opening of the Rivers Casino in February, in keeping with a schedule negotiated between the city and CP Rail. Because the bridge will get temporary supports and will be replaced in sections, rail traffic is expected to continue over the span during the project.
A prime reason for the new bridge is the increase in traffic on both Nott and Erie that is anticipated to accompany the opening of the casino. That opening is scheduled for Feb. 8.
The bridge, which was built in 1904, is located just a few feet east of Erie Boulevard. The road beneath it is being closed during construction for safety reasons, city officials said.
“The width of the underpass restricts the ability to have the road open and complete this work in a safe manner,” the city Department of Utilities and Functions said in a prepared statement issued Friday.
The closure begins Tuesday and is scheduled to last through Jan. 31.
Westbound traffic will be detoured over Seward Place to Union Street, while eastbound traffic will be detoured to either Union Street or Maxon Road during the closure.
“We’ve had to use this detour before,” Wallin said. “We’ve found it is successful, though it has been inconvenient.”
Traffic delays are expected, and people are also being encouraged to use alternate routes.
The railroad is paying for the entire project, at an undisclosed price.
“The railroad has been a great partner to work with,” Wallin said.
About 12,000 vehicles per day travel that section of Nott, which is near the Price Chopper corporate headquarters, Ellis Hospital and Union College. Wallin said the major employers were consulted during planning for the project.
He said the new bridge and its timing are the result of a two-year negotiation with the railroad, which approached the city about the replacement plan at about the same time the city wanted to prepare Nott Street for the development of the casino and Mohawk Harbor.
The new roundabout was designed with the knowledge that the bridge would be widened, which will improve sight lines for drivers turning from Nott onto Erie.
“This will remedy how tight the turn is onto Erie Boulevard,” Wallin said. A wider sidewalk will also be installed beneath the bridge.
Work will begin in the spring to build a right-turn lane on Nott and install the new sidewalk, which is being paid for privately as a mitigation for the casino traffic increase.
CP Rail spokesman Andy Cummings said construction over the next four weeks will involve installing the temporary supports, then replacing the deck, segment by segment, until the entire bridge is new. “By using this technique, we can minimize disruptions to train traffic and roadway traffic while the bridge is being replaced,” Cummings said.
The rail traffic on the bridge includes the city’s daily Amtrak service, he noted, as well as freight trains.
Reach Gazette reporter Stephen Williams at 395-3086, firstname.lastname@example.org or @gazettesteve on Twitter.