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Niagara County set for $33.4 million in public works projects

LOCKPORT – A Niagara County Legislature committee authorized $33.4 million worth of road, bridge and building repair projects Tuesday, with almost one-third of the money to be borrowed.

If the full Legislature follows suit next week, the county’s Public Works Department will have final approval for major repaving projects on Lincoln Avenue in the Town of Lockport and Lockport Road in Wheatfield, including reconstruction of major intersections.

The Lincoln Avenue project is to cost an estimated $8.6 million, and the Lockport Road job will cost $5.5 million.

A roof replacement and heating and air conditioning upgrade at the County Jail, with a $4.5 million price tag, also is on the list.

Budget Director Daniel R. Huntington said he expects a $10.36 million bonding resolution to come before the Legislature at its May 20 meeting.

Huntington said he anticipates that County Treasurer Kyle R. Andrews will start the borrowing with short-term notes and convert them later on to long-term bonds.

“Kyle will do whatever is more cost-effective,” Huntington said.

The remainder of the funding for the projects comes from appropriations of the county’s fund balance, federal or state aid, or the sale of unused electricity from the county’s Niagara Power Project allocation. The latter is estimated to bring in nearly $2.3 million.

Most of the federal money, which totals almost $16.5 million, will be applied to the Lincoln Avenue and Lockport Road projects, both of which are set for construction this year, according to Richard W. Eakin, deputy public works commissioner for engineering. The county will borrow more than $3.8 million for those two projects.

Lincoln Avenue is to be rebuilt from Beattie Avenue almost to Akron Road, with a new intersection featuring left-turn lanes to be installed at Lincoln and Beattie.

The Lockport Road project extends from Ward Road to its westernmost intersection with Walmore Road. Eakin said left-turn lanes are to be installed in all four directions at Lockport and Ward roads, while a traffic signal and a left-turn lane for southbound traffic are to be installed at Walmore.

The federal government also is supplying $3.65 million for the repair of the Wilson-Burt Road bridge, with the county borrowing $624,000.

That project will be done this year, along with the $120,000 replacement of the Minnick Road bridge deck in Lockport and the purchase of $425,000 in heavy equipment for the Highway Department.

The jail roof project, which Eakin said may not begin until next year, includes $3.5 million in borrowing and $1 million in power sales.

On another topic, resolutions to spend another $12,000 on the county’s data network consultants, ECC Technologies and Cannon Design, were delayed because Legislator Randy R. Bradt, R-North Tonawanda, was unable to attend the meeting.

Administration Committee Chairman Anthony J. Nemi said the money was for attending extra meetings that exceeded the consultants’ contract allowances before the county shelved the plan to install a new phone system. The controversial project was dropped amid allegations from the vendors of bid rigging.

Nemi, I-Lockport, said Bradt was a prime player in the issue and deserved to have a chance to question the billing. “I think it’ll eventually get paid,” Nemi said.