March 29, 2013

Does Freese Road need a much bigger bridge?


It sounds like the rush to expand the bridge has paused. It fell off the request for funding, and it's not clear that it would have to be built out to two lanes even if the grant were approved. Nonetheless, this is definitely worth keeping an eye on. I'll try to get a copy of the NESTS study with figures to tell the story on which this application was based.


On its north side, Freese winds through a 15mph and a 10mph curve that are not much fun in winter. Its southern terminus, where it meets Route 366 and Mount Pleasant Road, is an accident-prone intersection with terrible sightlines. The Town of Dryden is pondering further traffic-calming measures there, including a roundabout.

Somehow, though, I see a proposal to widen it to two lanes (1.7MB PDF) is going to the state, as a new project requesting federal Transportation Improvement Program (TIP) highway funds.

The bridge was closed for repairs in 2004, but apparently that wasn't an exciting enough project. Now, citing a 1999 study that wasn't warmly received (figures missing, so hard to read), we suddenly have a proposal for a major expansion.

Bridge open, Freese Road
Bridge open at Freese Road, 2004

They do plan to talk to the public eventually - page 4 states that "The neighboring community (hamlet of Varna) is very active concerning traffic and transportation planning and a great deal of public involvement is expected." However, "Public involvement will be encouraged by holding a series of public meetings during preliminary design", which suggests that there won't be a public opportunity to just say that this is a ridiculous idea that should not happen, period.

In related excitement, the county has historically paid for bridge repairs while the towns handle the roads. Not here, though - "The Town of Dryden would be asked to fund approximately 20% of the local share." The "local share" is 20% of the $3,275,000 project, so that's $131,000 piled into the Town of Dryden's highway budget.

People wonder why I don't trust the Tompkins County Highway Department. I wonder why they wonder.

Posted by simon at March 29, 2013 12:14 PM in
Note on photos