Power lines boost cost of bridge

Alternatives considered for access to Route 840

Posted Jul 02, 2008 @ 11:44 PM
Last update Jul 03, 2008 @ 06:24 AM


Plans to build a bridge and interchange along state Route 840 have hit a snag.

The estimated cost of the proposed bridge that would serve a new business park and proposed school transportation center has risen by more than $2 million. The reason: National Grid power lines are in the way and would have to be moved, officials said Wednesday.

That would boost the project’s cost to well over $7 million, a figure greater than the amount of state money likely available to fund the work, state Assemblywoman RoAnn Destito, D-Rome said.

* The New Hartford Business Park is a private project, but it is reliant on significant public support.

* Town and state officials are looking at ways to create access to Route 840 at a cost of at least $5 million.

* The town, school district and Oneida County have also agreed to give up tax money to fund improvements on Woods Highway that will help traffic flow to the business park.

* Construction on the business park site began earlier this year and is expected to be completed this fall. The Hartford insurance company will become the first major tenant, shifting jobs from an existing building in the town.

“We can’t justify spending economic-development money on moving the power lines,” Destito said. “That raises the price of the bridge significantly.”

As a result, town and school district officials are considering other options:

* Moving the bridge to a slightly different location. Town Supervisor Earle Reed said this would help limit spending to a level close to the original $5 million goal because the power lines wouldn’t have to move.

* Building a regular intersection between Woods Highway and Route 840. Transportation officials fear adding a new traffic light would negate the original purpose of Route 840 as a corridor for commuters and commerce. Total cost: About $9,000.

* Constructing temporary access to the business park such as exit and entrance ramps from Route 840 or an intersection while state officials look for funds to build the bridge at the planned location. Total cost of the ramp: About $4,000.

Access to Route 840 is a key element of planning for the business park, which would house The Hartford insurance company, an 80 to 100 room hotel and an office building. The building for The Hartford will be completed later this year.

“We need the bridge,” Reed said.

Lawrence Adler, the developer of the business park, said access to state Route 840 was part of the deal with The Hartford, which will open in November.

“A bridge would be a real victory for the region,” he said.

Schools Superintendent Daniel Gilligan, who has been pushing for the bridge that would also connect the business park with a proposed shared transport facility behind the Oneida-Herkimer-Madison BOCES campus, said some action must be taken.

“If we can find the money for the bridge, then do not build the intersection,” he said. “The bridge is worth waiting for as long as it is coming. All we are hoping for is some assurance. If the bridge is never built, you are better off with the intersection.”

Destito, who said her preference would be a bridge, called for public involvement in the decision-making process because of the costs involved.

“It needs to be made in the public domain,” she said. “There have not been any discussions or public meetings.”

State Sen. Joseph Griffo, R-Rome, said some action is needed.

“We need to be sensitive to the needs of the business park and the consolidation project,” Griffo said. “But I also recognize there could be an impediment to the traffic flow.”