DOT aims to minimize motorists' problems during next phase of arterial project

By Gary Liberatore

(WKTV) - The arterial project in Utica will cost an estimated $61 million, but could it also cost a lot in terms of headaches for motorists?

New York State Department of Transportation Spokesman Jim Piccola says the DOT is working as hard as it can to put plans in place to minimize the effects for motorists when the major road construction begins in the next few weeks.

"The initiative here is try and keep the traveling public free from delays as much as possible, to keep them flowing," Piccola said.

Phase II of the project was awarded on Friday to a company out of the Rochester area called Sealand Contractors Corporation.

The many parts of Phase II include the building of four new bridges. Three of those bridges will replace the current ones over Oriskany Boulevard, Columbia Street and Lafayette Street. The fourth bridge will be built to go over Court Street.

Piccola says it's that Court Street bridge construction that will cause the most inconvenience to motorists.  He says Court Street will have to be shut down for an estimated 300 days beginning sometime this fall in order to construct the bridge, which will have ramps from the arterial onto Court Street and a ramp from Court Street onto the arterial.

The first bridge work is expected to begin on the Columbia Street and Lafayette Street bridges in the coming weeks.

Piccola says a diversion road will soon be built from Noyes Street to Court Street so that traffic can continue to move freely while that section of the arterial is reconstructed and paved.

"Getting that first section built between Noyes and Court, the diversion, keeping traffic open in both lanes in each direction building the bridges and stuff like that, it's one of our biggest things that we're trying to do to keep the traffic flowing," he said.

Piccola says a specific time table has not been set by the contractor, but the work should on the diversion road should begin in the coming weeks.

A big part of Phase I of the project is the building of the pedestrian bridge over Sunset Avenue, which is expected to be complete by mid-July.

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