Montgomery County

Town of Florida’s Cemetery Drive bridge replacement finally moving forward

Cemetery Drive bridge located in Town of Florida on is seen on Jan. 26, 2022.
PHOTOGRAPHER:

Cemetery Drive bridge located in Town of Florida on is seen on Jan. 26, 2022.

FLORIDA — Plans to replace the “structurally deficient” Cemetery Drive bridge over the Chuctanunda Creek are ready to move forward to construction this spring, over three years after Montgomery County was awarded $1.9 million in state funding to undertake the project.

The gradual pace towards actual project construction since the county was awarded $1.9 million in November 2018 through the state Department of Transportation’s Bridge NY program to replace the Cemetery Drive bridge is unsurprising, according to Montgomery County Executive Matthew Ossenfort.

“These things take a lot of time getting them designed and getting those designs approved through DOT,” Ossenfort said.

The county hired GPI Engineering in 2019 to design the bridge replacement project. DOT has finally signed off on the completed plans and authorized the county to advertise for construction bids in the spring.

James Piccola, regional DOT spokesman, said there are many engineering, traffic and property-specific considerations that can draw out the state’s oversight and review process for bridge projects. A multi-year timeline before construction can commence is not unusual.

“It varies depending on what’s entailed. Some bridges are very straightforward, others require a lot more thought,” Piccola said. “There is a process that needs to be gone through. Every job is different.”

The passage of time- and pandemic-related increases to construction costs are not currently expected to impact the overall price tag of the Cemetery Drive bridge project, according to Ossenfort.

The $1.9 million reimbursable state grant is expected to cover 95% of the project cost and the county will cover the remainder. The Montgomery County Legislature authorized a $2 million bond for the total project cost in April 2019.

“I’m not aware of any significant increases on this particular project. I think it’s a pretty straightforward project,” Ossenfort said. “Supply chain issues and timing would be more of a concern for me.”

The legislature on Tuesday approved a $184,571 contract change order with GPI to cover support and inspection services during the eventual bridge construction. The revised contract with the engineering firm now totals $544,133 for the entire project.

Bridge replacement work will likely begin later this year after a contract is awarded in the spring, Ossenfort indicated. He is hopeful work can be completed before the end of the year.

GPI and the selected construction firm will need to finalize plans for carrying traffic over Cemetery Drive during the replacement project. The dead-end road leads to the still-active Chuctanunda Cemetery and a single residence.

The bridge constructed over the South Chuctanunda Creek in 1936 was classified by DOT as “structurally deficient” before the Bridge NY funding was awarded in 2018 for its replacement. The classification for structures in need of repair, modification or replacement to restore their condition or improve their functionality has since been re-termed “poor.”

The designation does not mean the bridge is unsafe for travel, which would cause the structure to be closed to traffic, according to DOT. The Cemetery Drive bridge was last inspected by DOT in July 2019.

With the Cemetery Drive bridge replacement project finally on the horizon after several years, Ossenfort said the county must continue to diligently seek funding to address structures in poor condition and to perform routine maintenance on bridges that are currently in good shape.

“Most people don’t realize the county actually owns over 90 bridges,” Ossenfort said. “This one is long overdue. I’m happy to get it done and move on to others.”

Reach Ashley Onyon at [email protected] or @AshleyOnyon on Twitter.

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