FONDA - Construction of the new bridge over Route 30A will continue even while the Fonda Fair is going on next door.
The Department of Transportation engineer in charge of the project has assured fair officials that work will not interfere with the fair, which runs from Aug. 30 to Sept. 5.
Fair Board member Robert Johnson said he understood construction would stop during the fair. DOT engineer Rob Mosconi said Monday that work will go on, but every effort will be made to keep traffic running smoothly.
"We'll still be working, but we won't be in the roadway," Mosconi said. "We're definitely going to do our best not to impede anything that goes on at the fair."
Richard Kennedy, president of the Fonda Fair Board, hopes Mosconi is right.
"They told us construction will continue," Kennedy said. "My biggest concern is traffic flow."
Kennedy said portions of the work that won't directly affect fair traffic can be addressed during the week of the fair.
"There's other work that can be done, such as building the retaining wall," he said.
"Part of the project is a 460-foot wall from the fairgrounds to the bridge, and we'll be working on that," he said. "We'll have trucks going in and out, but we won't be working in the roadway."
Meanwhile, area merchants say the work on the bridge makes driving inconvenient for customers and employees, but they look forward to the project's completion.
"It's hurting us a little bit," said Susan Kelsey, manager of the Stewart's Shop on the corner of Main Street and Broadway. "Not just our customers, but our employees have to drive through it."
Kelsey said she will be glad when the work is done.
"It's definitely an inconvenience," she said. "It'll be worth it when it's done."
Mark Caffrey, a shift leader at the Subway Shop on West Main Street, said the construction and the detours have backed up traffic.
"I have to drive up around the [Fonda-Fultonville] school so I can skip that light," he said. "All you can do is grin and bear it. Traffic is ridiculous. A two-minute drive is now 15 or 20 minutes."
The shop's schedule has been thrown off a bit as well, Caffrey said.
"The afternoon rush is moved back. It used to be between 4 and 6 p.m. Now it's between 5:30 and 7 because traffic is so backed up."
Sheri Kayes, a clerk at the Fonda Post Office, said she has heard "tons" of complaints.
"Even the guy who works for the county and comes with the truck [to pick up the mail for delivery to the county building] complains," she said. "Coming from Fultonville, he'll park somewhere and come here with a hand cart. He says it's quicker than trying to beat the traffic."
Kayes said she will be glad when the old bridge is replaced. She knows first-hand it's not in great shape.
"I've been sitting on that bridge in my car and gone like this," she said, bouncing her hand up and down.
John R. Becker covers Montgomery County news. He can be reached at email@example.com.