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15 public works projects costing $25M on tap for Niagara County

LOCKPORT - The Niagara County Legislature on Tuesday approved a list of 15 public works projects coming up in the next three years, with a total estimated cost of $24.9 million.

Many of them are road and bridge repair jobs that also will draw sizable amounts of federal and state aid, while building-related projects will be paid for exclusively by the county.

However, the $24.9 million figure includes about $3 million earmarked for the reconstruction of a closed portion of Tonawanda Creek Road in Clarence, in Erie County. Niagara County has an agreement with Erie County to act as the lead agency in processing federal aid and bids for that work, currently scheduled for 2020.

The delay is caused by the federal government's timeline in delivering a promised $8.05 million in construction aid, which includes Niagara County's plans for work along its Tonawanda Creek Road in Lockport and Pendleton: shoring up the road just east of South Transit Road and repaving the stretch between Campbell Boulevard and Irish Road.

"There's basically three projects," said Richard W. Eakin, Niagara County deputy public works commissioner for engineering.

The Lockport portion of Tonawanda Creek Road "is in the process of failing like Erie County's did," Eakin said. "Erie County's (trouble spot) is a bit farther east than ours."

The paving between Campbell Boulevard and Irish Road, also slated for 2020, will include drainage upgrades. "It's got the old corrugated metal pipe that is vulnerable to the (road) salt," Eakin said.

Away from Tonawanda Creek, there's plenty of other road and bridge projects on the Niagara County list.

In Wilson, Youngstown Road needs to be stabilized near Twelve Mile Creek, which is threatening to undermine the road. Construction on the estimated $1.22 million project, which includes $1 million in state funds, is slated for next spring.

Eakin said the county has applied for permits from the state Department of Environmental Conservation and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to work on the creek, placing various structures to slow the creek's flow and force the current away from the slope beneath the road.

Also in Wilson, the Chestnut Street bridge over the east branch of Twelve Mile Creek is to be replaced in 2018. The estimated cost of $1.75 million includes $1.24 million in federal funding. The current bridge has a design that leads salty winter runoff right into the metal supports, causing deterioration.

In the Town of Lockport, an old wooden bridge on Wisterman Road over Mud Creek is to be replaced in 2018 with a concrete bridge resting on steel piles. The new bridge would not have weight limits, as the current one does. Federal aid will cover $1.4 million of the $1.76 million cost.

Eakin said Niagara County still has quite a few wooden bridges, and not all are slated for replacement. "It all comes down to how well the wood is holding up," he said.

North Canal Road in the Town of Lockport is scheduled for repaving, but not until 2019 or 2020. Federal and state money will pay the entire estimated cost of $3.9 million, with preliminary designs expected next year, Eakin said. The road will be milled down to the base, culverts will be replaced and the shoulders widened.

Walmore Road between Lockport Road and Niagara Falls Boulevard in Wheatfield, a heavily traveled road, is slated for repaving in 2019, with the feds picking up $2.1 million of the $2.6 million cost.

The Carmen Road and Hosmer Road bridges over Golden Hill Creek in Somerset are to be replaced in 2018. Both are threatened with closure because of rusty supports. The $1.29 million cost estimate for Carmen Road includes $1.03 million in federal aid, with the county paying the remainder, while the $1 million Hosmer Road project will be paid for entirely through state and federal grants.

The county also is allocating $100,000 next year for replacements of assorted guard rails and bridge railings around the county.

Building maintenance also was part of last week's package. At the Human Resources Building at 10th and East Falls streets in Niagara Falls, a leaky roof and the rooftop air handlers are to be replaced next year, an estimated $700,000 project, all at the county's expense.

The concrete "island" hosting diesel fuel pumps at the county highway garage on South Niagara Street in Lockport is slated for a $300,000 makeover in 2017 to comply with new state regulations on fuel islands. The state will pay half the price.

The county plans $178,000 worth of construction in parks next year, including a new shelter at Krull Park in Olcott, a storage barn for equipment at Bond Lake Park in Lewiston, and renovation of restrooms at Royalton Ravine.

The county also plans to spend $175,000 to buy real-time video cameras for the Sheriff's Office, to be placed inside every marked patrol car and jail transport vehicle. Also on tap is an estimated $200,000 worth of plumbing repairs at the County Jail, where there have been numerous leaks in the prisoner areas, some allegedly caused by vandalism.

The package also includes $100,000 for environmental assessments and abatements at various county buildings. There have been state Labor Department asbestos exposure investigations in 2015 at the Shaw Building in Lockport and earlier this year in the County Clerk's Office at the Courthouse, both caused by unprotected removals of material by work crews who didn't know they were dealing with asbestos.

email: tprohaska@buffnews.com

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