By Joshua Maloni
Work is now underway on a long-awaited Center Street enhancement project.
“New York State DOT is resurfacing Center Street. I had asked them back in 2018, and we're finally getting to it,” Mayor Anne Welch said Thursday.
Project cost is expected to be $1.8 million.
“The major work will be removing the old brick/concrete crosswalks, then milling the old road surface and repaving the entire street,” Welch said. “The project includes replacing the traffic lights in the intersections, pedestrian signal devices, and removing and replacing old informational traffic and street signs. New village street signs will be installed to match the antique streetlights.
“This construction is scheduled to be completed by June 1, 2022. Center Street will remain open to traffic during construction.
“We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause. If you have any questions, please contact the Village of Lewiston Clerk’s Office at 754-8271.”
Almost 11 months ago, the Niagara River Region Chamber of Commerce hosted a Q&A with the New York State Department of Transportation. At that time, Assistant Regional Design Engineer Sanjay Singh, P.E., said his agency first began framing a repair plan for the state-controlled roadway in 2019. He noted Welch “visited our offices here … and explained her vision of what she wants to see as part of this project. We tried to incorporate as many elements as we could.”
Singh further explained, “The project in itself is about eight-tenths of a mile long. It starts at the intersection of Fourth Street with Center Street, and extends east up to the ramp from the expressway.
“The reason this project was initiated was mainly to improve the rideability of the pavement surface. And this type of project is called a preventive maintenance project. The idea behind preventive maintenance projects comes from an old English adage or idiom that a stitch in time saves nine. So, before the deterioration of the pavement extends further deeper into the pavement structure layers, if we can just scrape off an inch-and-a-half off the top of the asphalt pavement, and put in a new layer, we can restrict the deterioration from going into the lower layers of the pavement – and save a lot of expense. Because, if we have to redo a reconstructed roadway – which means removing two-and-a-half feet of roadway and reconstruct it – that’s a very expensive proposition.”
The remodel calls for revamped traffic lights, poles, signs, crosswalks and markers.
At the April 2021 meeting, Construction Supervisor Lisa Bevilacqua said, “They’re supposed to pave curb to curb. So, as they start paving, they’ll do one side of the road, and then flip traffic and do the other side of the road. A segment, whether they go down … a couple blocks one way or the other, that should be paved curb to curb by the end of the day so there’s no joints.”
Moreover, “Once it’s milled, people can park on it,” Bevilacqua said. “There’s no problem driving on the milled surface but, when they’re going to be working in that immediate area, usually the contractor will post temporary ‘No Parking’ signs on both sides of the road where they’re going to be working.”
Welch said she was told milling would take “approximately 15 minutes in front of a business. … It doesn’t take that long.”
Singh also emphasized, “What we have … in the contract documents is there shall be no temporary lane or shoulder closures on roadway facilities, designated on … holidays and special events.”
Laborers have been on site working at the intersection this week.
Welch said, “They're at Fifth and Center digging, because they can't hold the traffic lights with the wires anymore. So, they're putting those big arms across – which are normally like aluminum, but I'm having them painted black so they look better. And then they agreed to do all our new street signs. They wanted to pick up the cost on that. All the white signs on Center Street that we had done over 20 years ago, they're all going to be gone. And the new street signs will be black poles to match our lampposts. It’ll look really nice when it's done.”
This reconstruction project, funded by NYS DOT, was expected to begin last summer, but was postponed due to delays in acquiring necessary materials.