By CRAIG FREILICH
CANTON – Delays and detours will return to downtown Canton as work resumes on the $10 million Main Street project, but officials believe interruptions will be less drastic than last year.
“A little bit farther through the winter people will see activity increasing,” said New York Department of Transportation Region 7 spokesman Michael Flick.
“This year the focus is on the residential end of the job,” from Stiles Avenue to the downtown core at Court and Park Streets.
The project began in the spring of 2012, on a roughly one-mile stretch of Main Street – U.S. Rt. 11 through the village -- from Riverside Drive to Stiles Avenue. The first season of the two-year plan rebuilt the section in the business district from Riverside Drive to Court and Park Streets.
The project includes work on aged water and sewer lines and storm drains under the street, which DOT took on as infrastructure in the village endured a century of use and was collapsing, according to the DOT.
The work under the road this year will be similar to what was done in the western end of the job, where the road was torn up for the water and sewer work. But Flick said that this year’s work should go more easily because “there is not the same building density in the residential section. Generally that means fewer surprises and the work should move along a little more quickly.”
The unstated hope is that there will be less disruption this year than last, when businesses on Main Street expressed concern about what the work – including rebuilding some sidewalls and limiting parking in the construction zone -- would do to their bottom lines and customer satisfaction.
Canton Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Sally Hill said last year that, once it’s all done, businesses would benefit from the improvements downtown, including crosswalks away from intersections, “and the trees won’t be dropping fruit on the sidewalks.”
It will all be worth it, said Village Trustee Mary Ann Ashley said. The infrastructure, at the surface and below it, is being improved, and “it needs to be a priority if we’re going to grow. We can’t with antiquated infrastructure.”
Once the underground work is complete, that section of the road will be rebuilt up through the binder layer, which is what the western section is covered with now. Then the whole nine-tenths of a mile of road will get a finishing top course all at once.
“They like to do that as long as they can in one go. The fewer seams, the fewer starts and stops during that process, the better the finished product will be.”
The toughest part for drivers is likely to be the roughly six weeks when the intersection of the road and the CSX railroad track is to be reconfigured.
That will also involve Jay Street, which when they’re done will no longer reach Main Street, and Railroad Avenue.
Planners are expecting to have to close Main Street completely at that spot during that time, the only time during the project that all lanes of Main Street are expected to be impassable to traffic for so long.
DOT spokesman Flick said the exact schedule is up to the contractor, Luck Brothers of Platsburgh, within a specific time window.
“The allowable dates are between June 24 and Aug. 30, ten weeks that coincide with the school break. In there, they will have no longer than six weeks to do the work at that intersection.”
Flick said the work there will be complicated by a new curvature in the road, the railroad grade crossing, “and the public utilities that cross there.
“It could be a straight six weeks,” or it could be broken into shorter jobs, Flick said.
Another part of the project might also require drivers to take a detour, around the section between College Street and Hillside Road. Some of the ore difficult replacement of sanitary sewer infrastructure will take place there.
“We expect a five-day closure there, also in that six-week window,” Flick said.
The entire project is expected to be done this fall.