By Jesse Mast

Traffic on Interstate 86 between Steamburg and Salamanca may need to slow down a little over the coming months, but construction on the interstate and its plethoric potholes is moving full speed ahead.

Susan Surdej, a Public Information Officer from the New York State Department of Transportation, said the $29 million project will improve the interstate between Exits 17 and 20.

The first major step is reconstruction of the NY Route 280 Bridge over I-86 in Coldspring, which was closed to westbound traffic Thursday. The NYSDOT announced the project early this week. The bridge will be redecked, and patching is scheduled to begin next week, according to Surdej.

Surdej said work on the bridge is expected to take approximately seven weeks.

A detour route has been posted for westbound traffic.  Details on the detour were unavailable at press time.

The bridge is one of 14 bridges that have needed work, some of which were begun last year. Scaffolding is also in place for construction on the bridge over the Allegheny Reservoir.

In addition to the bridge, the 10-mile stretch of I-86 between Steamburg and Salamanca will soon undergo construction, beginning with the eastbound lane. Eastbound traffic will be reduced to one lane during milling and paving, and when this is completed the process will repeat for the westbound lane.

Construction last year included the removal of redundant ramps at Exit 20.

The construction project signals progress following a disagreement last year between NYSDOT and the Seneca Nation concerning the portion of I-86 that passes through the Allegany Territory. Although the DOT was ready to begin construction last June, according to an August press release by the DOT, the project was delayed due to ongoing negotiations between the DOT and the Seneca Nation of Indians.  An agreement was reached in early August.

“Work will continue right through the construction season,” said Surdej.  Construction is expected to be completed by the end of this year.

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