Hoxie Gorge bridge work jams traffic on Route 11

Staff Reporter

Cortlandville — Workers for Vector Construction Corp. are working more than 160 feet in the air this week as they begin the replacement of the southbound Hoxie Gorge bridge on Interstate 81.
The $14.6 million state project will not be complete until fall of 2007, said Larry Selan, engineer for state Department of Transportation. The new bridges will be 160 feet high, and will span 700 feet over the gorge.
“We’re replacing the two existing bridges that were built in 1964 and ’65,” Selan said.
Southbound traffic has been redirected since May 1 to Route 11 from Polkville to Marathon. The bridges will remain open as construction of the new spans continues.
The detour is scheduled to last until Friday morning between 9 and 10 a.m., Selan said.
But Friday won’t come soon enough for Edwin Marcey, who lives at 2536 Route 11 in Polkville.
“Over the last several days my wife and I have almost been hit twice trying to get in and out of our driveway,” Marcey said Monday. “And last night traffic was backed up for miles, with cars just creeping along.”
Marcey said he would like to see the DOT post reduced speed limit signs to reduce the potential of an accident.
“There have been several incidents where tractor-trailers have needed to slam on the brakes,” Marcey said. “There are marks all over the road because people are not familiar with the road. That could lead to school buses, pedestrians or bikers getting hit.”
Marcey said he has contacted the DOT, requesting a reduced speed limit, but has not gotten a response. The speed limit should be posted as 45 mph while the detour is up, he said.
The DOT has hired troopers to keep the detour safe, Selan said. One officer directs traffic at Exit 10 in Polkville, and another patrols Route 11 between Polkville and Marathon.
Selan said he received a couple of complaints, but the detour is a short-term issue and aside from ongoing precautions, he does not know what else can be done to alleviate the concerns.
“We can post an orange and a black reduced speed sign,” Selan said. “But those are only suggested speeds. An officer can’t make a stop or give out a ticket for those.”
The posted speed limit is 55 mph for most of the detour, with slower sections in Polkville and Marathon.
“I don’t see that many people are speeding,” Selan said. “I don’t know how much more you would want to reduce it.”
The steel girders are being placed for the new bridge this week.
Work actually began on the bridge in April 2005. Three concrete piers were poured in stages through most of last year, Selan said. The steel for the bridge was manufactured in Pennsylvania and delivered last week. It is being put in place this week.
“The existing bridge is being used to house cranes and other equipment while we place these 25-ton beams,” Selan said.
Once the new southbound bridge is complete, it will be used temporarily for northbound traffic while the northbound bridge is demolished and replaced with a bridge in the same spot as the existing northbound bridge.
When the new northbound span is done, the original southbound bridge will be demolished and the permanent traffic pattern will be in place on the new bridges.
The existing bridges have been repaired several times over the years. “They’ve been deteriorating over time,” Selan said. “The existing girders are corroding. They’ve just reached their peak and need to be replaced.”
Though the detour is scheduled to end Friday, another detour could be in the works in the future.
“We’re not sure about down the road,” Selan said. “It may happen again, it may not. We haven’t gotten that far yet.”


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At Greek Peak —
Work to begin on expansion

Staff Reporter

VIRGIL — Construction of a $34 million four-season resort at Greek Peak should start in the next two weeks, according to the resort’s president.
A 150-room four-star hotel, a 52,000 square-foot indoor water park and a lobby and restaurant will be built during the first part of the project.
In a presentation at the Cortland County Business Development Corp.’s monthly meeting Monday afternoon, Greek Peak President Al Kryger gave an update on how the project is progressing.
A major piece of the funding for the project has dried up, Kryger said, explaining that $25.3 million from a lender through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s community facilities program fell through in March after the lender “disappeared” twice.
“We’ve spent a lot of time and put a lot of energy to get the funding in place, and now they withdraw at the last minute, because they said there’s ‘no proven track record in Central New York,’” he said.

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Zapella: Caped crusader of self-esteem
SUNY Cortland freshman dresses as character to educate children about healthy choices


Staff Reporter

Cortland’s Erin Parker is a 19-year-old freshman at SUNY Cortland, studying early childhood development. But when she is not hitting the books she is hitting the streets as Zapella, a superhero who entertains and educates children throughout the county.
Wherever kids need help staying safe, strong and healthy, Zapella will be there.
“I help kids learn about self-esteem and good decision making,” the caped superhero said.
Zapella is the youth spokeswoman for the Zero Adolescent Pregnancy program, run by Cortland County, the YWCA and the Cortland Youth Bureau.
“Obviously we’re not going to discuss teen pregnancy with kindergarten kids,” said ZAP Coordinator Cindy Grey. “Zapella teaches kids to make healthy decisions.”
Zapella makes appearances in classrooms and summer camps throughout the county. In addition, Zapella can be found at a variety of county-run programs. A program called “Cool Cats, Calm Kids” teaches children anger management techniques. “Be A Superhero” teaches respect, responsibility and trustworthiness. “The Friendship Program” teaches children the qualities of being a good friend. Zapella volunteers her time to help the children of Cortland.
“These types of programs put children in a good situation when it does become time to discuss teen pregnancy,” Grey said.

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