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Fonda traffic flows again after bridge project

State plans to demolish old span over railroad tracks

December 6, 2012
By ARTHUR CLEVELAND , The Leader Herald

FONDA - Motorists no longer are facing long waits and traffic backups in the village.

The state has nearly completed construction of the new railroad bridge on Bridge Street and two-way traffic is flowing again.

Workers have a few final tasks to complete on the new bridge, but they still have another job to do. The state has to demolish the old bridge, which still stands next to the new one.

Article Photos

The Leader-Herald/Arthur Cleveland
The new bridge on Bridge Street, above, is almost complete, with only touch-up work remaining. The old bridge, to the right, still needs to be demolished.

Robert Mosconi, engineer in charge with the state Department of Transportation, has been working on the project since it began in spring 2011. As of now, the new bridge requires work on signals and an embankment.

In July, the bridge construction in the village at times slowed traffic on East Main and Bridge streets to a crawl. The project was expected to be finished by then, but damage in the surrounding area caused by Hurricane Irene in 2011 delayed the completion.

Residents of the village, such as Sorrenti's Pizza owner Rob Carpenter, said that during the worst of the construction, the traffic created problems with his business.

"It was very damaging to lunch," Carpenter said.

He had to close during lunch. He worked seven days a week at night to try to make up the lost revenue during the summer of 2011.

He recently saw an increase in business.

This summer, while construction was ongoing, the main road through Fonda often had traffic jams. Some residents reported in July having to wait 20 minutes or more to make a trip through the village.

The state finished much of the bridge construction in October and opened the bridge to two-way traffic.

The old bridge now sits unused next to the new bridge.

Mosconi said the method for removing the old bridge is being decided now. Plans have been submitted to CSX, which needs to approve the plans because the bridge goes over the CSX rail line.

Once approved, Mosconi said workers will remove the bridge piece by piece.

The process of removing the concrete deck and steel parts may take 24 days, Mosconi said.

One crossing open

Another issue that caused trouble in the summer has been solved temporarily.

Citing safety concerns, CSX early this year closed the Broadway railroad crossing to two-way traffic and the South Center Street railroad crossing to all traffic. This closure prevented easy access through the village, directing traffic into the jams caused by the bridge construction.

Mayor Bill Peeler said the traffic congestion over the summer had been relaxed by CSX opening the Broadway Street crossing to two-way traffic temporarily.

Bill Holvig, Mohawk highway coordinator, said the crossing opened in late August or early September.

Since then, Holvig said, he's had an easier time getting himself and his crew to and from work sites. Previously, when Broadway was open only to one-way traffic, the town and county highway departments had to loop around through the worst of the traffic jams to get to a site, taking upwards of 20 minutes.

CSX has kept the railroad crossing at South Center Street closed to all traffic.

South Center Street resident James Riggi said the crossing was a quick way for him and his neighbors to get out.

"They're landlocking us here," Riggi said.

CSX and the village are awaiting a decision by a court on whether the crossings will be shut down permanently.



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