City ‘gets the ball rolling’ on East Seneca Street Bridge

OSWEGO — Renovations to the East Seneca Street Bridge are nearing as the city of Oswego enters the design phase of a project that has been in the works for more than five years. 

The Oswego Common Council this week approved a master agreement with the state Department of Transportation and allocated $27,850 of local funds to get the project underway. New York State Department of Transportation (DOT) documents estimate the total project to cost between $3.3 and $5.6 million. 

The council’s actions this week mark the start of what is likely to be a multi-year process.

“It’s still going to take awhile,” Oswego Mayor Billy Barlow told city councilors on Monday. “We’ll have to select an engineering firm to come up with the actual design, then we’ll bid it out and then actual construction, but this gets the ball rolling.” 

City officials estimate construction on the roadway would start in 2023, with the new bridge being in place by 2024. 

With his term ending in December 2023, Barlow said the administration would push to complete the work prior to the expiration of his time in office, but noted “that would be very ambitious.” 

Barlow said the city had the bridge evaluated several years ago and inspectors recommended replacing or renovating the bridge, which city officials expect to cost around $3.5 million. Barlow said with the resolution approved Monday, the city would work with engineers to design the renovation before likely soliciting bids for the project next year. 

The city was awarded funding in late 2019 to replace the East Seneca Street Bridge, with grant funds set to cover 80 percent of the total project costs. 

First built in 1939, according to the DOT, the East Seneca Street Bridge carries traffic over railroad tracks and acts as a main commuter route for residents who work at Novelis and the Nine Mile Point and James A. FitzPatrick nuclear plants. The well-traveled bridge also handles large trucks due to its proximately to those plants, the Port of Oswego and a variety of other nearby businesses. 

The current four-span bridge was built in 1978, according to the city, and is deteriorated in various ways. City officials say the main objectives of the project are to replace the superstructure and provide drainage improvements. 

City officials sought funding for the project at least as far back as September 2016, when the council authorized a grant application for the project. City officials at the time said the bridge required structural repairs and noted both concrete approaches to the bridge were in “pretty bad shape.”

The city again sought funding to replace the bridge in February 2019, and ultimately was awarded the money through a five-year capital program from DOT aimed at assisting municipalities with local projects. 

Barlow in 2019 said the East Seneca Street Bridge project was part of his administration’s push to improve city infrastructure, noting the city has spent considerable time and energy finding and allocating resource to improve water and sewer service, pave streets and maintain buildings. 

“Securing funding to repair and replace the East Seneca Street Bridge allows us to replace this bridge before it becomes a major safety concern and allows us to continue allocating the proper resources to other projects and address our other infrastructure concerns,” the mayor said. 

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