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Residents get peek at latest plan for Union Street

OLEAN – The latest proposed changes to the North Union Street renovation project were unveiled before a packed courtroom at the Olean City Municipal Building Tuesday night. The mostly federally funded project is expected to cost $8.85 million.

The open house format gave residents a chance to take a look at plans as well as voice concerns. Decisions on items such as bench designs and light pole design and placement are still up to the residents, but a lot of the project has already been figured out, according to Hatch-Mott McDonald representative, Jeff Lebsack, the project lead.

Plans for the street have always included underground utility lines, but Lebsack said a new design perk would replace incandescent streetlights with LED lamps. Other new items include storm water filtering gardens placed along the street.

The plants are expected to help filter and recover more storm water without having it go into the storm sewer and to the treatment plant.

Comments from residents centered around the ability of emergency vehicles to get through the street’s narrower lanes, which will be reduced from two in each direction to one with a center median.

Bicycle lanes are included in the roadway width and lanes will be 19 feet wide, enough room for traffic to move over and yield to emergency vehicles, Lebsack said.

Plans for current lane closures were also unveiled.

In the first phase of the project, the street would be narrowed to two lanes in a 22-foot-wide section while the other side, consisting of the travel and bicycle lanes and the median and a travel lane in the other direction, would be completely finished.

Once that phase is complete, the 57-foot-wide section that had been previously closed off would be opened with a travel lane on each side of the median, allowing traffic to start to get acclimated to the configuration. Then the 22-foot-wide section would be completed.

Plans for the entire design are set to be 90 percent complete in early May with final phases to be completed in mid-June, Lebsack said.

Prep work is to begin in October. Street work is expected to start in March or April 2015 with completion in 2017, Lebsack said.

A crucial component of the reconfiguration will be changes to the railroad crossing, which is being considered the dividing point of the project.

The rail line will be completed with federal funding.

A public hearing on the changes has been set for 9 a.m. April 16, in the Olean City Municipal Building.