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DOT plans to repair William Street bridge in Gouverneur

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GOUVERNEUR — The state Department of Transportation is proposing a $3.4 million rehabilitation of the William Street bridge that will reroute traffic onto Hailesboro Street.

If everything goes smoothly, the work could take place next summer, which would mean the third year in a row of major road work in the village, but it more likely will happen in 2016 over one construction season.

The 248-foot-long steel multi-girder bridge, built in 1951, handles 5,500 vehicles daily. William Street in that section of the village is both Route 812 and Route 58. While the bridge is safe, it has deficiencies.

“It’s just getting old,” DOT engineer Jeffrey L. Grill told about a dozen residents gathered Tuesday in the municipal building to hear about the project.

The pier cap beams have extensive spalling. The deck has a long history of problems. The bridge has a rating of 4.3 out of 7.

The bridge is hard to work around or improve significantly in terms of width and clearance because it is under a railroad bridge that will remain unchanged. To bring the bridge to standard design would require reconstructing the railroad a long way down the tracks, affecting nearby at-grade crossings that are already humped.

“It would make them worse,” Mr. Grill said. “We’re really kind of shoehorned in.”

Shallower beams will improve clearance by about 7 inches.

Keeping one lane open while crews work on the other side of the bridge is problematic because it would require two years of construction, create a single narrow lane for travel in the winter and create unsafe conditions because the layout is tight.

“Safety is paramount,” Mayor Ronald P. McDougall said.

Longer trailers cannot fit on one lane because of the alignment and some truckers would be looking at detours of 20 to 100 miles.

“We don’t want trailers getting stuck there,” said Ernest J. Reape, DOT supervisor of highway design. “What we looked at was Hailesboro Street.”

The DOT wants to temporarily close the William Street end of River Street, possibly temporarily close one entrance to Riverside Cemetery and pave Hailesboro Street, with additional paving on each side of the railroad track on the street so that lowboys and fire trucks do not get hung up. Four driveways would need temporary adjustments for the at-grade railroad crossing improvement.

“That’s really why we’re here — to make sure we’re not harming them too much,” Mr. Reape said. “The off-site detour makes the project simpler.”

The DOT will accept comments by May 6 sent to the 8th floor, Dulles State Office Building, 317 Washington St., Watertown, 13601.

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