State funding has finally paved the way for a much-anticipated road project in the city's former industrial district.
The City Council voted Tuesday to award a nearly $10 million road construction project on Buffalo Avenue to CATCO of Alden.
"It's had a reputation for some time for being the worst street in Western New York," said Mayor Paul A. Dyster. "So we'll be happy to get off the bottom of that list."
Residents and lawmakers have pressed for the road project for years, and reconstruction of the pothole-ridden road has been a priority for a number of mayoral administrations.
But the city had to wait until last November to receive state funding for the project, and legal agreements were only recently finalized. The contract was added late Tuesday for the Council's approval.
"It's a big project, and so it's been some time trying to get it to the top of the [funding] list, and I'm just happy it's finally reached that point," Dyster said.
The city will fund roughly $49,900 of the project, with the other 95 percent coming from the state. Reconstruction of the road will run from Veterans Drive to 63rd Street.
City residents have called for the project for years as the street has deteriorated from the heavy traffic that once circulated to the major chemical factories along Buffalo Avenue.
"Because it runs through the city's industrial heart, it takes a huge pounding from truck traffic," Dyster said.
The city, meanwhile, has not had the funds to repair the road, and numerous challenges existed, including railroad debris under the road bed and radioactive contamination.
The mayor said the contamination issues the city is dealing with on the stalled Lewiston Road project will help if unexpected issues arise on Buffalo Avenue. CATCO has "a reputation of moving quickly to get things done," Dyster said, and worked on the city's 97th Street road project last year.
City Councilman Robert Anderson Jr. said LaSalle residents support the project but would have preferred the work to focus on the residential areas north of the project's current scope.
"It's nice that it's being done, but it would have been nice if they spoke to some of us, and we would have turned them around," Anderson said.
The project is expected to be completed in two years, Dyster said.
In other matters, David Pfeiffer, president of Man O'Trees of West Seneca, declined his second invitation to appear before the Council and address delays with the Lewiston Road project.
Council Chairman Sam Fruscione said Pfeiffer's lawyer, John P. Bartolomei, said it was "not the contractor's obligation" to address the project delays. Pfeiffer has been locked in disagreements with the city for months.
City officials will meet this morning to discuss their options on the project, Dyster said.