Front Street construction

Workers prepare to pour concrete on Front Street as part of the Walkable Olean Phase II project.

OLEAN — Construction season is moving full steam ahead, city officials reported Tuesday.

At a meeting of the Common Council’s strategic planning committee, City Department of Public Works Director Bob Ring filled in aldermen on progress made at various points across the city.

The largest project now under construction, the Walkable Olean Phase II along Main and Front streets, saw a late start and other delays due to the global pandemic.

“We’re definitely noticing some COVID kickback,” Ring said, with the project beginning Aug. 12 and delays reported on materials from concrete to small parts for pedestrian traffic signals.

It is likely that construction will not begin on the south side of the bridge before the spring.

“We can’t plan on November being nice,” he said, and some minor work on the north side like tree planting may be delayed to the spring. “We have assurances they’ll pretty much complete the north side.”

To calm traffic on Front Street between North Union Street Extension and Main Street, a median is being prepared, reducing the four-lane street to a two-lane street for most of its length.

Work also includes milling and resurfacing the streets — as opposed to the work on North Union to tear the road to its base while replacing all underground utilities — drainage repairs, and new trees and driveway aprons. Ring said that markings to help drivers with the changed traffic pattern should be done before winter, as well.

Work next year would focus on the south side of the bridge, Ring said, as it is expected that concrete plants will shut down in mid-October. The project will be wrapped up before ground is broken on Walkable Olean Phase III, along the East State Street corridor between Union Street and Olean Creek.

  • Work on a new water main along the Washington Street corridor is also advancing quickly despite the pandemic.

“On Washington Street, they finished the 8-inch line today,” Ring said, the new main to serve the area. Now, service and other connections need to be made, as well as testing the lines before they begin to bring water to homes.

The $1.15 million first stage of the project began in early July. A new water main on the 200 block of North Fourth Street and along Washington Street is to be accompanied by repaving the streets above.

The city borrowed money for the project in 2018, but delayed work while waiting to hear back on state infrastructure grants. While construction could have begun in late 2019 after successful bidding, officials chose not to begin as to avoid leaving Washington Street torn up and awaiting repaving over the winter. Before the COVID-19 pandemic pushed back construction to a July start, officials had hoped to get the project completed by June 30.

As part of a larger discussion on creating a strategic plan for bicycle access around the city, Crawford asked that Ring investigate the costs of improving bicycle access on the stretch by adding shared road markings to Washington Street. In addition, aldermen also asked Ring to check with the contractor on improving the intersection of North Fourth and Washington streets, known for its wide, sweeping curve with no traffic control devices.

“There aren’t a lot of accidents there, but speeds are fast coming around that radius,” Ring said, adding that he would like to address the poor grade of the sidewalk at the same time by bringing the curve out into a right-angle intersection.

Ring said that the existing stop signs would not be affected, and traffic would continue as it currently does, but with slower speeds and shorter crossing distances for pedestrians.

  • The new water pump station off Main Street to feed the Stardust hilltop tanks is also continuing, Ring added.

Ring noted that the area has been graded, while utility work is continuing.

“They’re going to be starting building the building in a couple of weeks,” Ring said, with the structure expected to be completed in October. Then, city crews and contractors will focus on the interior through the winter. Landscaping, painting the building and paving the driveway will be done in the spring.

  • However, work on improvements at the city’s water treatment plant and well house on East Riverside Drive have been delayed, Ring said, due to issues meeting Minority and Women owned Business Enterprise requirements.

(Contact City Editor Bob Clark at bclark@oleantimesherald.com. Follow him on Twitter, @OTHBob)

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