I have not written about this project before, however I have openly described what I know to the Village Board, the Planning Board and to other groups and individuals. There are some subtle changes to the construction/demolition plan(s) that I have described in the past. Let me give you some history, some preliminary details, some small setbacks and (as best as I can) an update on where the DOT plan is now.
Spring of 2015
In the Spring of 2015 there were floods. This happened after the long-term keystone culvert that passed from under the ground behind Gillespie’s car dealership to where it comes out behind the storefronts on the west side of Cayuga Street/Route 90, collapsed. Heavy rains and small trees, along with other branches and debris caused further blockage and the water went over ground and caused many businesses and homes to flood. The water migrated across Rt. 90 and downhill to the south onto Basin Street. Many homes and businesses sustained damage to their first floor and basements.
The NYS DOT met with village officials and residents to work on a solution to the problem. The decision was made to sleeve the existing culvert. This would allow the same amount of water to flow as it had for over 150 years prior. Additionally, the Village was put on notice to keep built up debris out of the stream bed. (This would prove to be harder to do as most of the stream passes through private property and the steep topography in some places presented other problems). Also, the idea of building a retention pond further outside of the village was nixed by both the DOT and DEC.
In theory, this would work. But we don’t have the same weather events as 100 year floods have been replaced by 500 year floods (not my terms – I believe they come out of FEMA).
Move forward to 2017
We flooded again. For many reasons the “new” culvert could not hold all of the hard rushing upstream water. Sure, there was brush and tree debris blocking the flow, but back to the aforementioned weather patterns and coupled with less upstream resistance, over an inch of rain in 20 minutes created our own “Perfect Storm”.
This time DOT responded even more quickly. And might I add that their leadership from top to bottom has made this process much easier than we had previously experienced.
That ends the short form history. Now let me give you a glimpse of the project proposal as it stands today (projects of this size and shape are always subject to some change).
An archaeological/architectural dig has been finished. This is done to prevent damage or disruption of protected flora, fauna and indigenous relics (plants, animals and native everything). When this study passes the State background check, the construction part of the project can be submitted for other state review(s).
To this point the surveying is mostly done, much of the initial engineering has been completed and the Regional DOT Manager is preparing final draft plans.
And how much of a disruption will this project cause? Let’s address the east side of Rt. 90 first. At the far eastern portion of the project, the property owners (Park Street) who have access through the Gillespie car lot will NOT have access during parts of the construction phase. The headwater of the creek and the access driveway will change some as the plans call for a more direct path to the new culvert.
The proposed new culvert will be 8 feet high by 16 feet wide. It will run parallel to the existing 6-foot stone culvert. As you can imagine this will put a pretty big hole in the dealership parking lot. At least one building will be removed (the old electric plant) and much of the car lot will be torn up and rebuilt.
And then the culvert will cross under Rt. 90. On top of some traffic delays and re-directs, it will impact part of the designated Historic District on the west side of the street. At least three (3) buildings will be torn down. This will leave a massive hole in between the remaining buildings. To be fair, there are both bad and good being removed. And eventually the area will be re-claimed and developed. More on this as we go forward.
Also in this update, there are proposals to change some local traffic patterns. Because this new culvert will allow more water, debris and possibly a tree through, changes are being considered to Factory and Foundry Streets.
Not part of this project, but in relation to where the water ends up, the Village is in the process of acquiring the Roto Salt property (Zachs). Part of our larger plans is related to how we help in protecting the lake. Within this acquisition, we are working on a plan to remediate some of the nutrient load in the creek prior to it entering Cayuga Lake.
But between the Roto Salt property and the uptown water flow is Foundry Street. And that has its own 6-foot culvert that would not sustain all of the possible water and debris due to the changes in culvert size that we have previously mentioned.
And worse, passing through the middle of the old culvert is our gravity fed sewer line. For many reasons this cannot be changed without tremendous cost. DOT is working on a solution to these problems.
One possibility is closing Foundry Street to through traffic and making Factory a two-way dead end street with a turnaround. As this part of the project is in the end phase, I am sure there will be discussion and change.
The timeline is open, but the remediation/construction/demolition project could possibly start late this summer (2018) and finish as late as two years from now (2020). I will update this as I find out more.
Mayor Bud Shattuck