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First Phase of sewer project complete in Utica

By NICOLE PITT

UTICA, N.Y. (WKTV) - Work has been underway for months now, digging up an aging sewer system and replacing it with a new one in Utica. The project is mostly funded through grants and loans secured with the help of the New York State Environmental Facilities Corporation.

The construction shut down an entire stretch of road. Some business owners are glad the construction is over-- but think there should be some changes for Phase Two.

"I've dealt with it. I've felt the dramatic blow from it and I don't wish that on anyone. Any business owner in this city," said Joe Loiacano, owner of Joey's Auto Detail Shop on Erie Street.

"It was pretty bad," said Mark Thompson, owner of Buster's Auction House. "There has been no cars at all. They were afraid to come down the street."

"Everyone was aware of the fact that there was a lot of construction going on," said Mayor Robert Palmieri. "But this was a total reconstruction of not only the top which is the asphalt but it was also underneath which is 150 years old in these areas."

Loiacano and Thompson were directly impacted by the first phase of the sewer project. State and city officials say the project was necessary not only for the health of the residents- but to make sure the system meets federal regulations.

"For the residents clearly it's preventing backups from entering their home which is very unhealthy situation," said Matt Driscoll, the president of the New York State Environmental Facilities Corporation. "And environmentally speaking it prohibits the discharges from ending up in the Mohawk River which creates an environmental concern as well so all-in-all, it's really protecting people's health and also really improving the environment."

It's not the fact that the construction was underway that is bothering these business owners, it's the complete closure of the road. Loiacano is concerned for businesses in the path of Phase Two of the project.

The same thing is going to happen anywhere this project goes on because the mayor just doesn't understand that you can't close a street down," said Loiacano. "Granted I know the work has to be done but work gets done on the thruway. They close one lane and there's still another lane open."

They could've put one (lane) open..or rerouted them," said Thompson. "Made a dirt road, that kind of thing, like they do on the thruway or Route 8.

"When you have an infrastructure that's over 100 years there is no separation and there are breaks," said Palmieri. "Hopefully this is not going to happen for the next 100 years so you're not going to have this problem."

"I'm happy I have a smooth road in front of my shop," said Loiacano. "I have new sewers in front of my shop but I'm not happy with the road that led up to it. The blatant disrespect for me being a taxpayer.

"He's trying to change the wrongs of the past it's that simple," said Thompson. "It's just I'm caught in the middle because I'm new here starting."

The next phase of the sewer project will include the eastern part of West Utica and a section of South Utica. Those projects are expected to get underway in March or April.

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