January 22, 2014


City to repair 3 bridges this year

Staff Reporter

The city Common Council on Tuesday approved the purchase of a dog for the city’s rejuvenated K-9 program and discussed the Department of Public Works’ plans for bridge work this year.
DPW Superintendent Chris Bistocchi outlined repair work on three city bridges this year. The Groton Avenue bridge at Otter Creek, the Rickard Street bridge over the Tioughnioga River and the Homer Avenue bridge over Dry Creek are all slated for rehabilitation work.
Bistocchi received a state Department of Transportation grant in 2010 that would have covered 80 percent of the anticipated costs of four bridge repairs, which was $600,000.
But due to inflation and additional repair concerns, the cost figure has now increased significantly.
“Since we have come up with some new numbers, it’s going to be somewhere around $745,000,” Bistocchi said.
At the recommendation of the state, Bistocchi has proposed eliminating the fourth bridge project from this round of funding, the Madison Street bridge at Helen Avenue. Engineering work for the repairs on the Madison Street bridge would still be completed under the grant and be used when money for physical repairs becomes available.
“Could we do all four bridges?” Bistocchi said. “Yes, but we’re doing it at a cost obviously.”
Dropping the fourth bridge puts costs below the $600,000 total, of which the city is responsible for $119,620.
The Groton Avenue bridge would remain the priority project due to the high volume of traffic on the road; approximately 16,000 cars travel that street per day, Bistocchi said.
There are eight bridges in the city that are subject to state inspection, where they are rated on a scale from one, being in need of immediate repair, and seven, being in excellent shape. The Groton Avenue bridge is rated a 4.8, while the Madison Street bridge is rated a 4.7.
Bistocchi said there will be an informational meeting at 7 p.m. Jan. 29 in City Hall explaining the process and costs associated with the bridge repair program.
Alderman Tom Michales (R-8th Ward) brought up rough road conditions on Broadway, which Bistocchi acknowledged he had discussed with Mayor Brian Tobin early that day.
“The list of streets that I have planned for this summer, let’s put those on hold,” Bistocchi said. “We’re going to have to pick through and remove some to put in Broadway and Townley. Pendleton Street is falling apart.”
The dramatic changes in temperature this winter, with highs into the 50s and lows well below zero, have exasperated the typical freeze-thaw cycle that creates potholes, Bistocchi said.
City police received final approval from the council for the purchase of a police dog from Shallow Creek Kennels in Sharpsville, Pa. The K-9 unit will have a dual purpose, working in narcotics detection and a patrol service dog, including some crowd control services.
According to city Police Officer Roger Stafford, who will be the handler for the dog, the dog will be between 10 and 16 months at purchase. The breed has yet to be determined, but Stafford said the average life span of a service dog is eight to nine years, with some working as long as 12 years.
Chief F. Michael Catalano said that he did not have a number for the times a dog from Cortland or Tompkins counties was used in the past year.
“It isn’t even so much how many times we would have used one,” Catalano said. “It’s how many times we’ve requested one, or could have requested one but didn’t because we knew it would be too far to travel.”
Catalano said that the city’s K-9 unit could possibly be shared between nearby municipalities like Cortlandville or Homer, but doubted towns like Preble and Virgil would get to use the dog.
“I know that a dog conjures up a lot of images and thoughts for different people,” Catalano said. “For the police, for police work, it’s another tool for us. It’s a little bit different tool than we usually have but it’s no different than if I was to come up here and ask for Tasers for our officers.”
The council also approved a contract with the police union to provide additional compensation for Stafford, of one half-hour per day, for the care and training of the new dog. At his current salary, Stafford will make an additional $5,380 per year and be responsible for housing the dog after hours.


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