The New York Thruway Authority hopes to smooth four "bumps" on the northbound South Grand Island Bridge that have caused traffic delays in recent weeks as a $48 million deck-replacement project progresses on the bridge. (Derek Gee/ Buffalo News)
It's a difference of about 4 inches. But for some drivers on the South Grand Island Bridge, it has meant the difference between being on time or late.
A 4-inch disparity between the old road surface of the bridge's northbound span and a new deck under construction has caused traffic backups in recent weeks.
Officials from the New York Thruway Authority hope to find a temporary solution to make the four "bumps" on the bridge more manageable for drivers by the end of the week.
"There are some of them that are about 4 inches high, and for people traveling 35 to 40 miles per hour going up the bridge, it's quite a bump," said Tom Pericak, Buffalo Division Director of the New York State Thruway Authority. "We're going to improve that so basically the slope is a lot less."
Pericak said contractors will likely use asphalt to make a smoother transition between the old and new deck surfaces later this week. The contractor has also ordered new metal plates that will be used to create a more gently sloping surface to transition cars from one surface to another.
Those plates are expected to arrive in about two weeks, Pericak said.
"The idea is to provide a longer transition or a longer ramp to make it more gradual," Pericak said, "as opposed to a sudden bump."
Pericak said the bumps caused delays during the past weekend when traffic on the bridge increased.
The $48 million deck-replacement project is scheduled to be completed by November. Crews from American Bridge Co. have been working about four nights a week to replace the deck in sections.
The project has also created delays on several occasions this spring when the northbound span did not reopen to traffic during the morning rush hour.
Pericak said two crews are now working on the bridge -- one using a crane on the land and another working from a barge in the river. He estimated the new panels are about a quarter complete.
Work to install the panels, he said, is scheduled to wrap up on September. After that, a new concrete overlay will be installed to create a smooth driving surface.
"It is a work zone," Pericak said. "We do caution people. They should be traveling at a lower speed."