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OLEAN – The reconstruction of North Union Street will start this fall with the replacement of a railroad crossing, according to Hatch Mott MacDonald traffic engineer Jeffrey Lebsack.

In a brief presentation to the members of the City Council, Lebsack presented where the project stands and what is to come.

According to his timeline, what are called 90 percent plans were submitted to the New York State Department of Transportation in mid-May. Lebsack said that he has received comments and that he and his team are responding to those comments from the DOT in preparation of the complete plan that will be submitted to the Federal Highway Administration by the end of this month.

The plan will cover how the project will evolve – from the first shovel in the ground until the final bicycle rack is anchored and the last flower planted. It will include specifications for the North Union project that contractors will be bidding on in the coming month or so.

The $130,000 upgrade of the Western New York-Pennsylvania Railroad crossing will mark the start of shovel-in-the-ground work. Lebsack said he is hoping the railroad will be able to get that work done in about six weeks so the rest of the project can flow from it.

At the crossing, existing signals that span the roadway will be removed and replaced with safer, more efficient gates that span only a single drive lane, a bike lane and a sidewalk. The number of crossing gates will increase from two to six, according to schematics.

During the upgrade of the crossing, traffic will be diverted among the various lanes.

While city, rail and contractor crews work at the crossing, residents will get their first glimpse of what is to come on the street as a whole, with plans to complete the center median from Sullivan Street to the entrance of Olean Center Mall.

Work for the 2014 portion of the project was accelerated a month by federal officials, according to city Public Works Director Thomas H. Windus. The original plan called for more of the utility portion to be completed this year, with progress to become evident in 2015.

Work, according to Windus and Lebsack, will be in five phases, developing into a complete street renewal by the end of 2016. The first portion, after the rail crossing, will start with the north end of the street, in 2015. That part will be done in two phases, with construction taking place on about the first two-thirds of the street. That section will include the street, bike lane and center median, while one lane of traffic for each direction will be on the east side.

The completion of the street will see the incorporation of regular traffic patterns as the east side of the street is completed. The process will be repeated in 2016 on the south end of the street.

The calendar calls for the full plan to be submitted by the end of June, with bids sought at the start of July. Bids would be expected to be opened around July 29, with project awards to be made about Aug. 12 and construction to start Oct. 1, Lebsack said.