NORTH TONAWANDA – After more than a decade, the $2.2 million effort to open an extension on Meadow Drive to connect Erie Avenue with the city’s main business district is expected to be complete Thursday.
The plan has hit a number of speed bumps along the way.
The extension was to have been opened on Monday, but delays in making electrical connections for the signal light and warning bell at the CSX Railroad line, which the new road crosses, set the planned opening back, said City of North Tonawanda Engineer Dale W. Marshall prior to the Common Council meeting on Tuesday.
Marshall said that CSX workers were on the job Tuesday and they had most of the work completed.
Due to the additional time needed to oversee the project, the Common Council voted on Tuesday to pay an additional fee of $17,364 to Parsons Brinckerhoff, which is being paid over $500,000 for construction observation and engineering design and services.
Mayor Robert G. Ortt said during the meeting that the opening delays had nothing to do with the city, but were exclusively caused by CSX.
“Every street in North Tonawanda crosses a railroad right of way,” said Marshall prior to the meeting. “They were established way before [the city]. They had a lot of legislation in their favor.”
He said the city had to go to war with the railroad and fought in court to move the project forward.
The city also faced issues of expanding a road through a federal wetland. More recently the city bid out work on the project at the end of last year using the wrong pay scale and had to rebid the project, which set everything back another month.
He said they were also planning on working through the winter, but the weather did not cooperate.
Marshall said that despite the costs, the project has remained in the black. He said federal funding provides 80 percent of the costs for the project and the state picks up 75 percent of the city’s 20 percent share. The city borrowed $500,000 for its share of the project.
Marshall said the extension, which connects to schools, the city library and the Mid-City Plaza, was on his to-do list since he started his employment with the city.
“We started thinking about this in the late nineties, about doing Meadow,” said Marshall. “Who would have thought it would have taken this long? The contract started in 2004 or 2005 and here we are almost 10 years later not open yet.”
“It’s a nice portal or entrance into the city,” said Marshall of the extension. “With this entrance into our business district you will drive through a forested area. It is a beautiful area that opens up into our central business district. It’s a pretty road.”