Sections of Clinton Avenue in Fort Plain took a 100-foot plunge down the eroded banks of Otsquago Creek in the aftermath of Tropical Storm Irene.
It’s been closed ever since, inconveniencing numerous village residents, but the village has hired Little Falls company ALX Hunter Excavation to get Clinton fixed up by spring.
The village worked with McDonald Engineering in Schenectady to design the repairs. According to project engineer Jeff Trzeciak, the fix will be no small task.
“The road basically cracked and fell down the bank,” he said.
Clinton Avenue snakes up a steep hill over Otsquago Creek. Irene swelled the creek, eroding the hillside. With essentially no foundation, two sections of Clinton’s outer lane fell away.
More than 300 feet of the road crumbled, but it can’t just be replaced. Much like attempting to erect the apex of a pyramid without first building the base, the whole hillside must be built back.
This time it will be reinforced to prevent the same thing happening with the next hard rain.
“They’ll have to excavate and build it back with riprap,” he said, explaining riprap to be a mix of different-sized boulders. “Some are the size of small cars. Those won’t wash away.”
In some places, ALX Hunter Excavation will even have to cut 10 feet into the hillside to make the road wide enough while maintaining stability.
Mayor Guy Barton said the work will make life easier for several hundred residents of the Prospect Hill neighborhood. Since the road closed, people living on Henry, Edwards and a few other streets have been taking a long detour along Route 163 and Garfield Street.
“It’s a long way for them to drive to get home,” he said, “but it’s also a long way for the police and firetrucks if there is ever an emergency up there.”
ALX Hunter Excavation made the lowest of 11 bids at $192,000. The village will have to put up the initial funds, but will be reimbursed up to $215,000 by FEMA and the state Emergency Management Office.
Weather permitting, work will begin in January and be largely finished by early spring. Asphalt can only be laid in the summer, but residents will be allowed to use the gravel road when it is completed.
Barton said the project will be finished by June 30.
If the repairs prove unstable, sometime in the future FEMA may end up funding a full road replacement, Trzeciak said.