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Malta bridge work delayed

Transportation engineers have put the brakes on a renovation project for two heavily used bridges carrying cars on Malta Avenue over Interstate 87 in the town of Malta.

The project proposed by the NYS Department of Transportation (DOT) calls for replacing the bridges while retaining the existing two, 10-foot travel lanes and two, 5-foot shoulders. Originally set to be put into high gear in 2009, at a public information meeting on Thursday, Jan. 24, DOT officials said the jackhammers likely won't begin blasting at the site until 2010.

Even at an accelerated pace, the project would take at least four to six months to complete, sending about 5,000 vehicles a day through detours.

DOT project managers said scheduling the work for 2010 will allow them to best chances of speeding the renovations along.

There are many requirements for putting state projects out to bid, and we have to also keep in mind the construction season, said Craig Blake, DOT region 1 designer. "There's also work being done at the Round Lake bypass, and we didn't want too much happening in the area at the same time."

Craig said the new bridge beams will be constructed of steel, and with bid awards, ordering and delivery, the materials couldn't be on site and good to go in less than seven months.

"That would put us into September or October, which is late in the season; we don't like to pour bridge decks after September," said Blake.

Blake said the bridges, last repaired in 1996, will remain structurally sound until the project begins, regardless of whether it's 2009, 2010 or later.

"We run inspections and rate the bridges to make sure we're replacing them before they're deteriorating," said Blake. "These bridges haven't even been posted to limit the tonnage on trucks allowed to pass."

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