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Land swap allows for Bailey Avenue bridges to be moved

The Bailey Avenue bridges that cross over the Buffalo River and Cazenovia Creek, allowing thousands of motorists in and out of South Buffalo daily, are going to be replaced.

But it will take about two years to accomplish.

A land swap between Buffalo and Erie County will get the city started on the project, said Steven Stepniak, the city’s public works commissioner. The County Legislature approved the swap Thursday.

The city will now put the project – expected to cost about $22 million – out to bid.

South Buffalo and Lackawanna residents routinely use the Bailey Avenue bridges, which go over the Buffalo River and Cazenovia Creek. And when Route 5 is closed, many Southtowns residents also use the crossings.

“It’s a major thoroughfare that over 20,000 vehicles pass through daily,” said Mayor Byron W. Brown. “This will make the roadway safer and improve the driving experience.”

Once a contractor is chosen, the process of replacing the worn-out, 88-year-old bridges, whose S-curves have confronted motorists for years, will be replaced with two new bridges and access and egress roads that are better designed, Stepniak said.

While the new bridges will take about two years to complete, a portion of the old bridges will remain open as the new ones come on line, so that traffic over the river and creek will not be interrupted throughout the construction period, he said.

The new bridges will be built on land right next to the current spans, which is why the land swap between Buffalo and Erie County was necessary. Erie County is giving the city property it owns where a portion of the new bridges and roadway will be built. In return, the city will give the county what is now city-owned property where a portion of the existing bridges and roadway are located. The land eventually will become an Erie County park, with a trail to the water, a parking lot, trees and wetland construction where the river and creek meet.

The existing bridges have been repaired over the years, and are no longer able to handle oversize vehicles. It’s time to replace them, Stepniak said.

Funding for the project includes $15.5 million in federal funds, $4.3 million in state funds and $3.1 million from the city of Buffalo.