EDINBURG - A hectic, rainy summer of 2011 wasn't able to delay the construction of the new Batchellerville Bridge. The long-running project is nearing its end, and the new span over the Great Sacandaga Lake is expected to open within the next two or three weeks.
Jeff DiStefano, co-owner of Harrison & Burrowes Bridge Constructors, said this week the bridge is back on schedule to open in November - the initial completion date for the project.
And even with the threat of another storm coming this week, the construction crew was able to pave through the afternoon Monday and got a full day of work in.
The new Batchellerville Bridge, at right, is nearly complete and is expected to open for traffic later this month. (The Leader-Herald/John Borgolini)
"All things considered, we're pleased with the progress," DiStefano said. "Last year, with weather, it didn't cooperate. This year, it has cooperated very well. That was kind of our plan by the onset. To try and get out of there by the next season [of the following year]."
The opening of the new bridge, which the workers have been driving across for the past six weeks, will make area residents and commercial drivers happy. Many truckers have had to drive 35 miles out of the way because of a 15-ton weight limit that has been enforced on the old bridge.
The new bridge will be physically wider in its lanes, shoulders and sidewalks, and it will have a wide bike lane, all of which DiStefano said will allow for a tremendous flow of traffic.
Town Supervisor Jean Raymond said she is glad the residents won't have to deal with the one-lane traffic and traffic lights for much longer.
"I'm totally pleased with how the project has gone. [The work crews have] done a wonderful job," she said. "They've been good neighbors with regards to the community. They've worked together to minimize the disrup. They've been great."
The construction crew has miscellaneous paving on each end and protective sealing left to do on the project, and they will return in the spring to finish the work with the demolition of the former bridge.
DiStefano expects the demolition to take about three months and the entire project to be done in July or August.
Right now, though, local residents are excited with what they're seeing and have been sharing their comments with the workers.
"Many of the things that people have said driving by are they're very excited for the new bridge to open and are very pleased with the project," DiStefano said. " ... They won't be waiting for the signal to change. It will certainly be much better than waiting for the signal."
DOT Spokesman Bryan Viggiani said the department won't know if the project is still on target to meet its projected $46.6 million cost until it is completed.
The construction crews still have to install lights and stripes on the bridge.
Work on the project began in August 2010. The bridge is critical for connecting the town, which is split in two by the Great Sacandaga Lake. The new bridge will accommodate all legal loads, according to the DOT.