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Western Gateway improvement project moves forward

Town board awards construction bid to Auburn company

— After more than a decade of starts and stops and various issues inhibiting the fulfillment of the Western Gateway Enhancement Project at the west end of town on Route 20, the nearly half-million-dollar construction bid has been awarded to an Auburn company and the project is finally moving forward.

The Skaneateles Town Board officially awarded the job to Rizzo Construction Company of Auburn at the board’s July 5 meeting. Board approval came after the bid award was tabled at a June 29 meeting due to cost issues related to the amount of federal funding versus the town contribution for the project.

At issue was the fact that the federal grant awarded to the town in 1999 for 80 percent of the project cost was based on 1999 construction costs, which are much lower than 2012 construction costs. This would mean a greater contribution from the town to meet the total project costs.

“We took a step back and started reconciling dollars to donuts if you will,” said town Supervisor Terri Roney. “Construction costs have gone up. For example, it’s 50 percent more expensive to do a road now.”

The Western Gateway (or Gateway West) Enhancement Project is intended to enhance vehicle and pedestrian safety, as well as landscape aesthetics, on the Route 20 corridor between the intersection of West Genesee and Fuller streets up to the Kwik Fill gas station. The project includes reducing the width of the highway to add curbs and curb cuts, sidewalks and crosswalks. The curbing, especially, is anticipated to improve the entrances and exits — to slow and make safer the ingress and egress traffic — of hilltop businesses and also to reduce truck loading and unloading in the area. Anticipated changes also include increased lighting, the elimination of open and unmaintained ditches along the roadsides and numerous landscape beautifications through the planting of grass and trees.

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