Goodbye green

IRVING – Motorists may have noticed something missing when traveling on Routes 5 and 20 in Irving recently.

The old bridge that spanned Cattaraugus Creek between Chautauqua and Erie counties was recently demolished. No longer visible on the skyline are the green beams of the bridge, which stood since 1931.

The demolition was a planned part of the $14.6 million project that began in 2011.

Last month, travelers were able to drive across the newly-constructed, open bridge for the first time.

According to Susan Surdej, public information officer at the New York State Department of Transportation’s Buffalo office, the project is still on budget and on schedule to be mostly completed by the end of the 2014 construction season.

“Demolition is moving along as the old bridge trusses have been removed. The old bridge abutments still have to be removed,” she said.

The new bridge will be built in two stages. 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.

Surdej explained the steps going forward to install the other half of the new bridge.

“The piles and footer (foundation) for the abutment on the Chautauqua side of the bridge have been installed. We (poured) the concrete wingwall (Wednesday). Work on the piers and the end bridge abutment will take place over the next couple of weeks. We expect the steel beams in September with the bridge to be open in October,” she added.

Surdej said the entire road area will be smoothed over before the project is completed.

“We will pave top course of asphalt on the whole project once that is done,” 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 has said this pattern will remain in place until the second stage of the bridge is complete.

The bridge project construction began in 2011 with creek bank stabilization, followed by construction of the roundabout and then work on the new bridge last summer. It is expected only landscaping work will be held over into 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.