Reports of the extension of the Route 219 expressway southward have been arriving for so long that residents have taken an "I'll believe it when I see it" approach.
Well, they can finally see it.
Work has been going on since the last week of March on extending the expressway southward from where it currently ends at its intersection with Route 39 in Concord.
"They're clearing brush and trees where the new expressway will be," said John Wind, the project's construction supervisor. "When it gets dry, they'll start the earth work."
It's a modest start to what is planned as an $85.7 million project that will include 11 bridges, including an impressive pair of spans over the Cattaraugus Creek gorge.
The work is planned to take three years. Wind said most of the ground moving will take place this year, with the structures going up in 2008 and 2009.
The project calls for a 3.5-mile extension of the expressway, crossing over the current Route 219 north of Cattaraugus Creek and ending at Peters Road in the Town of Ashford -- where the next stage will eventually start.
"It's going to be a long haul for the village [of Springville] and town," said Concord Supervisor Gary Eppolito. "The construction is going to be disruptive, but Cold Spring Construction, the Department of Transportation and Erie County Highway [Department] have all been working with us to ease disruptions."
Cold Spring, an Akron company, won the bid for the project.
Among Eppolito's and Springville Mayor Bill Krebs' concerns have been high numbers of gravel trucks driving through the village to the construction site, Eppolito said.
Many of the trucks will be detoured around the village, he said.
Other aspects of the project include the building of a construction road from near the Scoby Hill dam, use of the equivalent of 7.7 million shredded tires as embankment material and creation of a 64-acre off-site wetland complex in the Town of Ellicottville as the mitigation for loss of wetlands due to construction.
The wetlands will include trails to allow public access.
One of the first signs of the work will be the closing of the park-and-ride lot at the Route 39 intersection Monday. It will be demolished soon after.