Crews Bridge Erie Canal on Route 31, Retain Aesthetics

Wed November 07, 2001 - Northeast Edition
Mary Gelling Merritt



The plan to widen Route 31 and update the Route 31 bridge that spans the Erie Canal in the Town of Perinton, Monroe County, NY, calls for something new but with respect for what’s old.

“We’re installing a special four-lane truss structure to maintain the aesthetics of the original canal bridge,” explained Terry Luzier, project superintendent for Sealand Contractors Corporation in Rush, NY. “It is unlike a simple span structure. This type of structure has to be assembled in place.”

The New York Department of Transportation awarded the $14-million contract to reconstruct 2 mi. of Route 31 and replace the Route 31 bridge over the Erie Canal to Sealand Contractors Corporation earlier this year. The company has worked all summer making the improvements, however, the job isn’t expected to be completed until 2003.

“This is a non-typical project. It’s going to take three seasons to complete,” Luzier said.

Luzier said the work crews have had to sequence the work, which means they will have to wait for winter to do the majority of the bridgework. “We have to wait until there is no navigation on the canal,” Luzier said. “So we can drain the area.”

The new bridge will maintain the span’s original clearance height. Sealand Contractors Corporation will build an on-site detour adjacent to the bridge to lessen the burden on motorists.

Luzier said his work crews are depending on their Komatsu PC 300 excavators, Caterpillar loaders and Caterpillar D6 350 dozers to do the heavy work.

Officials said the improvements were needed because of the increased traffic in the area.

“These improvements will increase safety and improve mobility for the more than 25,000 motorists who use Route 31 in Perinton each day, while enhancing facilities for pedestrians and bicyclists,” said New York State Department of Transportation Commissioner Joseph H. Boardman. “In addition to the highway improvements, the project will also improve access to the Erie Canal trailway.”

Luzier said the two-lane Route 31 will be expanded into five lanes with the center lane dedicated to left turns. During construction, traffic will be shifted to temporary pavement while crews build the additional lanes. Two lanes of Route 31 will remain open at all times.

The project will improve traffic flow between Interstate 390 and Mosley Road (Route 250). To enhance the efficiency of the intersections, additional turn lanes will be built. For southbound motorists on Ayrault Road, there will be dual right lanes to Route 31 westbound. There also will be exclusive right-turn lanes from Wickford Way and Kreag Road in the northbound direction. Other improvements will include sidewalks at various locations, bike space in both directions and new Erie Canal trailway connections as well as improvements to existing connections, traffic signal light improvements at various intersections, flattening the hill at Austin Road and other pedestrian enhancements and aesthetics.

Sealand Contractors Corporation specializes in heavy highway construction projects. CEG