The Central Avenue bridge in Mechanicville reopened late Thursday after being closed since June while it was replaced.
The re-opening comes as a relief to many in the city. Some businesses complained detour signs put up on the Northway and other major highways, saying Central Avenue was closed, discouraged people from coming into the city and hurt their businesses.
“We’re very happy it’s reopening,” said Mayor Dennis Baker. “It’s been a real pain in the neck not just for city residents, but for residents of Stillwater and Schaghticoke who came through the city and hopefully will come back.
“It looks great,” he added.
The new bridge, owned by Saratoga County, is opening about three weeks after the originally projected Nov. 28 completion date. County Deputy Public Works Commissioner Tom Speziale said the project fell behind schedule mostly because of technical difficulties early on.
The former structure over the Anthony Kill was really a 19th-century brick culvert, not a bridge. Speziale said a lot of fill had to be removed before the new bridge could go up, and the fill had to be treated as hazardous material because the site adjoined an old coal gasification site that was contaminated by coal tar in the early 20th century.
Despite the delay, the project is expected to come in within its $3.3 million budget, Speziale said. The primary contractor is J.H. Maloy Inc. of Colonie.
The final cost won’t be known until finishing work is done in the spring. Paving work completed Thursday was sufficient to open the new bridge, but Speziale said final blacktop and sidewalk work will have to wait until the weather warms in the spring.
The reopening of Central Avenue will also be one less headache for city officials concerned heavy trucks that normally use Central Avenue were going to be diverted onto narrow streets, including Viall Avenue and North Main Street.
Speziale said the detour signs on the Northway and elsewhere were really aimed at the large trucks, not most drivers. After some businesses complained, however, a separate line was added to some of the signs stating “Businesses in Mechanicville are open.” Some businesses put up their own signs on the city’s outskirts saying they remained open.
Central Avenue normally carries 20,000 vehicles per day, making it by far the city’s busiest road.