Western Gateway project now under construction

Scheduled to be completed before November

— The Western Gateway Enhancement Project is no longer an unfulfilled plan, but a physical work-in-progress.

Construction crews started Aug. 20 prepping, digging, grading and tearing up land and pavement along the right side of Route 20 going west out of Skaneateles by Hilltop Restaurant and Red Apple gas station. By Aug. 31, curbs, sidewalks and business ingress and egress locations already were starting to take shape.

“They’ve gotten underway and it’s looking pretty good,” said Town Supervisor Terri Roney. “Hopefully this will be better for everyone safety-wise.”

The Western Gateway (or Gateway West) Enhancement Project was designed 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 Red Apple 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 landscape beautifications through the planting of grass and trees.

The project was conceived in the late 1990s, but various issues stalled it in the talking stages for years. In summer 2011, the town board sought to get the project moving, but its request for construction bids received no response with contractors citing too short a construction window at the time.

In February 2012, as the town board prepared to reopen construction bidding, it was informed that recent changes to state law required new issues to be addressed and approved by the state before bidding could forward.

On July 5, the town board officially awarded the job to Rizzo Construction Company of Auburn, who submitted a bid of $497,690 — only $500 more than the engineer’s estimated project cost. The total project will cost less than that, however, after the board decided in July to remove all landscaping amenities from the project, including the proposed stone monument signage, trees and benches, to fill a budget shortfall of about $137,000.

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