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Concrete arch installed for Johnstown bridge

November 2, 2012
MICHAEL ANICH , The Leader Herald

JOHNSTOWN - Workers on Thursday installed massive pre-cast pieces of the new concrete arch for the North Perry Street bridge.

The bridge-replacement project is the largest one of its kind in the city's history. This week's work got the project closer to its targeted end-of-the-year completion date.

City Engineer Chandra Cotter said D.H. Smith of Clayville, Oneida County, the contractor for the project, is still on target to finish it by the end of 2012.

Article Photos

The Leader-Herald/Bill Trojan
A crane lifts one of the prefabricated bridge units in the air as crews work at the bridge site on North Perry Street in Johnstown on Thursday.

"The bridge is supposed to be set today," D.H. Smith laborer Mallory Roberts said at the site.

She said her company is aiming to complete the project by year's end.

Local officials decided to replace the 30-foot-long North Perry Street bridge over the Cayadutta Creek after the state Department of Transportation in 2008 red-flagged what was the deteriorating stone-arch structure between Smith and Washington streets.

D.H. Smith is doing the bridge work for $1.83 million, but other costs have pushed the total project cost to about $2.4 million. Federal Highway Administration money is paying for 80 percent of the project and DOT is paying 15 percent. The city's share is estimated at $100,000.

The project started in the spring, and motorists traveling north and south on North Perry Street have been detoured around the construction site all year.

Cotter said D.H. Smith brought in about a dozen 25-ton rectangular cement pieces of concrete for the project as the company set the arch under the area where the new bridge will be located.

Contractors used a tall crane to carefully lift the concrete block pieces from flatbed trucks parked off Green Street.

The setting of the arch followed various other bridge work at the scene, including micro-pile drilling, and the prepping of the area by construction crews. D.H. Smith had scheduled this week to do the project and caught a break Thursday after the upstate remnants of what was Hurricane Sandy had passed through the area.

The North Perry Street bridge is known for another piece of notable weather history in Johnstown. A flood on July 9, 1889, killed five people as it washed out an early incarnation of the bridge. City Historian Noel Levee and state officials said this summer that DOT will honor the victims of the flood with a marker after finishing the bridge, probably in the spring.

In a column written by former Fulton County Historian William G. Loveday Jr. and published in The Leader-Herald, the flood caused severe damage to the city and its major leather industry. Severe thunderstorms raised the water level of the Cayadutta Creek to a new record height, he wrote, leading to the collapse of the then-stone-arch bridge.

"During the creek's rampage, four dams and seven bridges were washed away and destroyed," Loveday wrote. "The wild waters overflowed the banks and picked up everything in their path ... it was one of the most calamitous events in Fulton County up until 1889, and certainly deserves a significant place in our history."

Michael Anich covers Johnstown and Fulton County news. He can be reached at



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