SCHENECTADY — Construction isn’t expected to begin to replace the Kings Road Bridge connecting Schenectady and Rotterdam until next spring.
Even if the remaining design, approval and permitting process sails through without a hitch, work may not be complete until the end of 2021 once factors such as the lead time to obtain steel girders and coordinate efforts with CSX/Amtrak are complete.
Project stakeholders briefed residents on the timeline to replace the ailing structure at a meeting sponsored by the Woodlawn Neighborhood Association last Wednesday.
“This bridge isn’t only going to affect Schenectady — it’s going to affect Rotterdam and a lot of people,” said City Engineer Chris Wallin.
City administrators overseeing the project aim to submit final plans for the new structure for state Department of Transportation approval within the next several months.
The bridge serves as a crossing over the CSX/Amtrak rail line in the city’s Woodlawn neighborhood.
The structure has been failing for at least 15 years, said Wallin, and is held together by patchwork repairs he likened to an Erector Set.
“The piers are shot,” said Matt Collinwood, a consultant project engineer with CHA, the firm spearheading the project. "The temporary supports were installed in 1992 and they’re corroding.”
Replacing the structure is a joint effort involving the DOT, Federal Highway Administration and the city of Schenectady, which is serving as the lead sponsor after taking ownership of the structure from the railway.
The project is federally funded through the Capital District Transit Committee with expected total costs of $5.5 million.
Most of the funding will come from the federal government. The city's precise share will depend on the final allocation of state funding, Wallin said.
If the project is allocated full state funding, the city’s share will be 5 percent of the total cost, he said. But that figure could range up to 20 percent.
The replacement bridge could last up to 75 years if built to modern standards.
CHA has proposed two potential designs, both of which would be higher than the current structure.
The city’s preferred alternative includes 10-foot-wide traffic lanes with five-foot-wide sidewalks, and increased space for bicycles, which dovetails with city efforts to promote bicycle usage.
“We have the money to allow two bikeways with the sidewalk and really accommodate everyone,” Wallin said.
The bridge’s closure will result in detours for motorists.
“We estimate the detour is going to be in place for six months,” said Tony Papile, a consultant project manager with CHA.
Planners will hold off on deploying the detour for as long as possible in order to minimize traffic disruptions, Papile said.
Officials also want to increase minimum state-mandated signage requirements to provide motorists more time to get acquainted with the planned detours and traffic changes.
“The signage plan is going to be critical to that success,” Wallin said.
If all goes according to schedule, CHA hopes to have a contractor selected by next spring.
“The total project duration time we’re estimating is about nine months,” Papile said.