Creek crossing

IRVING – Out with the old and in with the new. The New York State Department of Transportation recently announced traffic will be moved to the new bridge over Cattaraugus Creek on Routes 5 and 20 on Friday.

The $14.6 million project began in 2011 with creek stabilization, followed by the construction of the roundabout and work on the new bridge began last summer.

The new bridge will be built in two stages, the first of which is nearly complete, and the second of which will be built after the demolition of the second bridge. The reason for this is because, besides the Thruway, the bridge is the only crossing over Cattaraugus Creek between Chautauqua and Erie counties, leaving no feasible alternatives for a detour.

Travelers have been able to see the bridge progress and on Friday will have the opportunity to cross the new bridge.

“The DOT is committed to opening (the new bridge) by noon on Friday, June 13,” said Susan Surdej, public information officer at the DOT’s Buffalo office.

According to Surdej the demolition of the old bridge, which was built in 1931, will take about a week, but will have minimal impact on traffic.

“We will need to stop traffic for the few minutes when we physically take down each truss (upper green metal beams),” she said.

In addition, demolition will interrupt fishing in Cattaraugus Creek below the bridge.

“For safety reasons, we cannot have fishermen under the bridge when we actually do the demolition,” she explained.

In April, a new traffic pattern was put in place with the two lanes headed east on Routes 5 and 20 being reduced to one lane after the Thruway exit. Surdej said this pattern will remain in place after the new bridge is opened. She continued to say the two lanes of traffic will be restored after the second stage of the bridge is complete.

According to Surdej, the bridge project is on schedule to be mostly completed by the end of the 2014 construction season, with only landscaping work expected to be held over until 2015.

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