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Western Gateway Improvement project delayed again

— Hopes for an early summer completion for the Western Gateway Improvement project have been dashed due to changes in state law that require the town to receive additional approvals for certain aspects of the plan.

Contractor bidding will not open in early March as previously announced by the town board, and anticipated project completion has been pushed back toward year’s end.

“We’re probably looking at a late summer or early fall project again,” Town Supervisor Terri Roney told the town board at its Feb. 2 meeting.

The project to improve and beautify the western Route 20 approach to the town has been in the works for more than a decade. The town board previously solicited project bids in August 2011, in hopes of completing the project by November 2011. No contractors sought the work, citing too short a window for construction time and too many other pending projects that were more lucrative.

At the board’s previous meeting, on Jan. 19, it was announced that project bidding would open March 2 with contracts awarded March 15. The board announced it hoped the project would be mostly done by May 25, with full completion by June 22.

The board recently was informed by its engineering firm, however, that due to changes in state law, the Western Gateway Improvement plan had three issues that need to be addressed and approved by the state before bidding can go forward. Those approvals concern tree root pruning, metal benches and monument signs.

The first two issues can be approved in about two weeks, but the approval of the monument signs could take up to six weeks, Roney said. This time frame pushes the entire project back two or three months.

Also at the meeting:

—The union contract for town highway, transfer station and water department full-time employees was approved by the board with minor changes from the previous contract, which expired on Dec. 31, 2011. The new contract covers calendar years 2012-14, and incudes 2 percent raises this year, 0 percent in 2013 and one percent in 2014. “The union has definitely made some concessions and we appreciate everything they do and that they understand the reality of today’s economy. They truly are good people,” Roney said.

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