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$22.2 million in federal funding allocated for Niagara highways

LOCKPORT – The committee that controls federal highway funding for Western New York has allocated $22.2 million for projects in Niagara County over the next five years.

The projects chosen by the Greater Buffalo Niagara Regional Transportation Committee include the reconstruction of part of Lincoln Avenue in Lockport, which is to begin next year.

“It’s just about the biggest project we’ve had since I’ve been here,” veteran county Public Works Commissioner Kevin P. O’Brien told a County Legislature committee last week.

The allocations, which provided federal money for 11 different projects, impressed Legislature Chairman William L. Ross, C-Wheatfield.

“This is due to the seniority of Commissioner O’Brien on the GBNRTC,” Ross said.

The panel handed over slightly more than $6 million for the Lincoln Avenue project, which calls for repaving the street from Beattie Avenue to Akron Road.

The bids are expected to be solicited in late fall, O’Brien said.

Richard W. Eakin, O’Brien’s deputy commissioner for engineering, said the length of the project depends on the contractor. “I’m guessing two construction seasons,” he said.

Besides repaving, the project involves moving a Town of Lockport water main that is beneath one of the shoulders of the road, and the installation of left-turn lanes in all four directions at the intersection of Lincoln and Beattie.

Eakin said the typical format is for the federal government to pay 80 percent of these types of projects, the state 15 percent and the county 5 percent. State budget woes have left that up in the air.

“We don’t know whether we’ll have a state share,” Eakin said. “Typically we do, but nothing is forever.”

Also on the agenda for work in 2014 is the repair of the Wilson-Burt Road Bridge over Eighteen Mile Creek in Newfane.

One of the bridge piers was replaced a few years ago, but the other is in bad shape, Eakin said. The transportation panel allocated $4.2 million in federal funding for the repairs.

Sightline improvements at Ransomville and Braley roads in Porter also are set for next year, a $50,000 project.

Feigle Road in Pendleton is to be repaved in 2015, with $2.2 million in federal aid. Also on that year’s agenda is the repair of the Youngstown Road Bridge over Six Mile Creek in Porter, for just over $1 million.

Slated for 2016 is one of the longest repaving jobs the county has tackled, the resurfacing of Lockport Road from Walmore Road in Wheatfield to Campbell Boulevard on the Cambria-Lockport border. The federal government provided $3.86 million for that.

O’Brien said a project to add left-turn lanes at all the major Lockport Road intersections is being shelved. O’Brien said the Buffalo Niagara region is no longer eligible for highway aid pegged to reduce air pollution because of improving air quality in the region.

Eakin said there is hope for left-turn lanes at two intersections, the westernmost intersection of Walmore and Lockport roads, as well as at Ward and Lockport roads.

Also scheduled in 2016 is the repaving of Upper Mountain Road between Thrall and Cambria-Lockport Town Line roads in Cambria, for $1.35 million.

Work isn’t expected until 2018 for bridge repairs on Carmen Road over Golden Hill Creek in Somerset and Wisterman Road over Mud Creek in Lockport. But funding has been pledged: $1.2 million for Carmen Road and $1.85 million for Wisterman.

Bridge washing and bridge deck overlays are funded for $417,000 next year, including repaving of the approaches to the Minnick Road Bridge over Mud Creek in Lockport, which Eakin said is one of the county’s worst bridge problems.