On schedule

IRVING – Anyone traveling through Irving on routes 5 and 20 this summer has been confronted with the construction taking place alongside the bridge over Cattaraugus Creek and at the intersection with Route 438.

Motorists have been able to watch as roads have been readied and paved and a circular center has been built in what will soon be a completed roundabout.

According to Department of Transportation Regional Public Information Officer Susan Surdej, the $14.6 million project is on schedule.

“The contractor is currently working on the new roundabout which replaced the former signalized intersection of 5/20/438. The roundabout is partially complete, currently being operated with a temporary traffic signal at Route 5/Milestrip. The temporary signal will then move to Route 20/Milestrip for the final part of the roundabout construction. The roundabout is expected to be geometrically operational by the end of this construction season – before winter – and the temporary signal will be removed. There will likely be final paving, landscaping, etc. …that needs to be done on the roundabout in 2014,” she explained.

Work on the new bridge, which is part of the same project as the roundabout, is also taking place.

“Work on the new bridge has begun, and is being built in stages. We anticipate the new bridge deck will be poured in spring 2014. Once that occurs, traffic will be switched onto the new bridge, and the old bridge will be torn down. Final detail work on the project may carry over into 2015,” Surdej added.

Some commuters and residents have expressed concerns with the change from a lighted intersection to a modern roundabout.

According to the DOT’s website, roundabouts are safer and reduce delays. According to studies by the Institute for Highway Safety and NYSDOT on 23 roundabouts, crashes decreased 39 percent, total injuries decreased 76 percent and serious injuries and fatalities declined by 89 percent.

It is explained these figures are because of a decrease in the number of “conflict points,” or potential places for collisions, from 32 at a traditional intersection to eight at a modern roundabout.

The website explains that modern roundabouts accommodate vehicles from tractor trailers to bicycles and also pedestrians.

Surdej explained there were several options for the bridge and intersection project, but it was determined building a lane bridge and constructing a modern roundabout was the most feasible and met the project objectives of increasing safety and improving the bridge’s rating for 30 years.

The DOT website explained roundabouts are being constructed in several states, and that after construction, the approval rating for the roundabout increases.

For information on the modern roundabout, go to www.dot.ny.gov/roundabouts.

The bridge over Cattaraugus Creek was built in 1931 and is the only bridge in New York state on a flood watch. It is also the only bridge besides the Thruway to cross Cattaraugus Creek between Chautauqua and Erie counties. In 2007, the bridge received a condition rating of 3.875 on a scale of 1-9 where 9 is the best. In 2011, an emergency creek bank stabilization project was completed in preparation for the construction of the new bridge. Last year, the bridge was posted with a weight limit until repairs could be made. In April, the project was awarded to the contractor, Union Concrete and Construction Corp of West Seneca.

More information on the project can be found at www.nysdot.gov, clicking the projects link at the top and entering PIN 5034.98.