Interstate 86 may remain closed through December

Construction crews continue work Monday to replace the culvert on Interstate 86 between Exits 23 and 24. Weather has slowed the project, which won’t be completed by Friday as scheduled. I-86 could remained closed through December.

ALLEGANY — The Interstate 86 culvert replacement project that has closed the four-lane highway between exits 23 and 24 will not be completed by Friday as initially projected by the state Department of Transportation.

Chris Baker, Cattaraugus County director of Emergency Services, said a DOT source had recently informed him that the road would not reopen Friday — and the closure could last through December.

There was a “weather permitting” clause in the announcement last month that I-86 would have to close for five weeks between Allegany and Seneca Junction for emergency replacement of a culvert.

Baker said he alerted fire companies, ambulance crews and law enforcement that I-86 would not reopen as quickly as planned.

“It looks like it will be the end of December before it reopens,” he said Tuesday.

Baker said the 7-mile Route 417 detour between West Five Mile Road in Allegany and Route 219 at Seneca Junction has had three accidents over the past month, including an overturned truck on Tuesday morning.

Route 417, which carries more than 3,000 cars a day, is also handling the more than 12,000 vehicles that normally use I-86 between exits 23 and 24.

State DOT officials discovered a settling of earth over the summer along the shoulder of I-86 near Chipmonk Creek in the town of Carrollton. The culvert was showing signs of deterioration and officials were concerned of a catastrophic failure over the winter that could close I-86 for many months.

Engineers went to work designing a new culvert and had an emergency contractor, Catco Construction of Elma, on standby. The old corrugated steel culvert was removed and the area was excavated to accept the new concrete box culvert. Water was diverted by a channel dug across the four lanes to Chipmonk Creek.

DOT Region 5 public information officer Susan Surdej did not reply to emailed questions Tuesday regarding why the culvert replacement project was lagging behind schedule.

On Monday, construction crews continued working at the scene. It is not clear whether the box culvert has been completed across both lanes.

The project is visible to motorists driving along South Nine Mile Road.

After the site is backfilled and earth compacted, warmer weather will be needed in order to pave all four lanes over the culvert.

(Contact reporter Rick Miller at rmiller@oleantimesherald.com. Follow him on Twitter, @RMillerOTH)

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