By Timothy Chipp email@example.com
Niagara Gazette — The original gateway between the City of Niagara Falls and the Village of Lewiston is now fully open and ready for traffic.
Gathered with representatives from the most recent construction firm to handle the project, several city engineers and state and county politicians, Falls Mayor Paul Dyster proclaimed the formal completion of one of the city’s most longstanding projects Wednesday, recognizing five summers of work on the alternative route bypassing the north section of the Robert Moses Parkway and servicing Niagara University.
“When we first broke ground on this project in April 2009, I doubt anyone believed we’d be here in August 2013 to declare the project completed,” Dyster said. “But we are. We’re finally at the end of this twisty, turning road.”
Twisting and turning drama is definitely an apropos description, considering the trouble the city’s faced completing the reconstruction of just 1.9 miles of road. Before equipment was ever brought to the street, before any construction companies were involved in lawsuits with the city, the roadway was an immediate nightmare for the city’s leader.
Dyster, a former resident of the road himself — his father still resides in the Lewiston Road home Dyster grew up in — said one of his first calls to anyone on his first day in office was to one of the city’s engineers about radiological surveys done on the roadway.
With radioactive slag buried beneath the existing street, the city needed to hold public information sessions, he said, in order to do the necessary work. The material, approximately 1,500 cubic yards, is now in a facility in Michigan, far from Niagara Falls residents, Dyster said.
Fast forward three years and the city’s troubles grew even more when the partnership between the city and its chosen contractor for the project, Man O’ Trees, came to a screeching halt. Citing not maintaining a proper timeline, the city fired its contractor and looked to hire someone new.
Man O’ Trees sued several members of the city government, including Dyster and the city council, last year over the fiasco, a matter still in litigation. David Pfeiffer, the company’s owner, said Man O’ Trees was improperly informed about the amount of radioactive slag below Lewiston Road, which led to the delays.
A large segment near Maple Avenue Elementary remained unfinished for months with no apparent activity. So in stepped Accadia Site Contracting Inc., hired a month after the Man O’ Trees suit was filed for the unfinished portion of the road from Bath Avenue to the northern city line.
Once finally completed, the project cost approximately $12 million, Dyster said. About 80 percent of the cost is handled by the federal government, while the state takes another 15 percent of the figure. It leaves the city paying approximately $600,000 for the new road, which Dyster said is not only important to the residents along the road but also those living on some of the other neglected streets which intersect it.
“I remember, as a kid, the complaints about the condition of the road,” Dyster said. “But that’s all behind us now. This allows us to come in and do some much-needed work on the side roads.”
Contact reporter Timothy Chipp at 282-2311, ext. 2251, or follow on Twitter @timchipp.