After a routine inspection that comes every two years, state Department of Transportation officials had four hours to close down both lanes of Route 20 in West Winfield near the town park.
DOT officials attended board meetings last week at the Village of West Winfield and Town of Winfield to talk about what to expect over the next few years and see if there are ways to reduce the impact of the detour. Permanent repairs and replacement of the culvert and bridge will take up to five years.
DOT construction supervisor Mike Pimpinella said every two years all bridges and culverts are inspected. What the culvert in West Winfield showed was enough to shut down both lanes of the road that goes east/west across the state.
Since then the bridge, constructed in 1930, has been demolished. The site is being prepared for a temporary steel deck bridge to be installed in August to open up Route 20 in both directions.
“The safety of travelers was possibly at risk,’’ Pimpinella said.
Pimpinella said a pedestrian walkway will also be put on the northside of the road to restore a sidewalk for foot traffic. He said the DOT is aware of the inconvenience the closer has brought, especially to the Mount Markham School District.
Pimpinella said the road will return exactly as it was. After the steel deck bridge is installed, the DOT will proceed over the next few years to outline the project, put out bids and eventually build a permanent structure.
West Winfield Mayor Jim Thomson asked if the village would have input on what the permanent replacement will look like. The village was able to obtain much of the stone that had been used in construction almost 100 years ago.
Pimpinella said the DOT will reach out to understand the needs of the site, which he said ges complicated with a vertical curve, speed and width of the road and the entrance to the park. The design phase is at least a year away.
Because of the potential historic significance, the DOT did consult with the state Historic Preservation Office before demolition. Because the structure had been altered there was no historical impact, he said.
Talk of the detour put the discussion to some of the problems caused. Traffic heading east is routed up North Street to Stone Road and then back to Route 20. Some travelers also take Fairgrounds Road for a shorter return to Route 20.
Traffic coming west can follow that route or have been taking roads that lead them into the Village via South Street.
Thomson said both roads are getting pounded heavily because of the weight of tractor…