DOT outlines Route 5 bridge work

A crowd gathered at a public information meeting with the Department of Transportation regarding an upcoming bridge replacement in the town of Dunkirk.

A bridge that has stood in the town of Dunkirk for nearly a century will come down within the next two years.

The New York State Department of Transportation (DOT) has set forth a timeline for a complete reconstruction of the bridge over Canadaway Creek on Route 5 in the town of Dunkirk. The project has an anticipated commencement of winter 2025, with construction beginning that spring. The bridge will be closed in the spring of 2026 while it is fully replaced, with construction set to wrap up in the winter of 2026.

“We don’t think the bridge will actually be closed until 2026,” said Sanjyot Vaidya, Regional Design Engineer of the project.

A detour will be necessary to avoid the area during the bridge closure. The proposed truck detour will divert traffic from Route 5 to Route 20, with Route 60-Bennett Road in Fredonia at one end of the detour and Route 394/Portage Road in Westfield at the other end. The detour length of 4.4 miles will increase travel time by nine minutes. For non-commercial travel, a detour will utilize Temple Road, Matteson Street, and Van Buren Road to avoid the bridge before reaching Route 5 again, which totals 2.1 miles added to the route for an increased travel time of four minutes.

“For the trucks, we need to make sure that they are on roads that can support truck traffic,” Vaidya said.

OBSERVER Photos by Braden Carmen Pictured is the Canadaway Creek bridge located on Route 5 in the town of Dunkirk. The bridge is over 90 years old and will be replaced by the end of 2026.

Once the project progresses to the construction stage, the DOT will reach out to nearby residents and emergency personnel to alert them of the upcoming project. The DOT will also have provisions in the contract to ensure the work is done within 120 days to limit the disruption to the local traffic flow.

Vaidya acknowledged there is always concern with detours and closures, but this particular project is a warranted disruption to local routines for a few months due to the life of the bridge.

“This bridge is 94 years old, so it does need a replacement,” Vaidya said. “It’s always faster when we take the bridge down and build it at once, as opposed to building it in stages. The general overall disturbance is lesser to the traffic.”

The project will include slope protection and retaining walls for the bridge, as well as shoreline protection and stream realignment to limit erosion of the bridge. A paved parking area will also be provided for access to the creek, which is a popular fishing site in the area. The bridge will also have widened shoulders of eight feet, as opposed to the current shoulder of less than three feet.

Town Supervisor Priscilla Penfold was in attendance for a public information meeting Wednesday afternoon with the DOT, as was Jay Warren, a resident who inquired about the bridge at a recent Town Board meeting. Warren was one of the first residents to bring concerns regarding the bridge to Penfold and the Town Board. Highway Superintendent Jeff Feinen has also been in contact with the DOT regarding the future plans.

Pictured is a rendering of the proposed bridge replacement project over Canadaway Creek on Route 5 in the town of Dunkirk

Tom Whitney, a property owner near the bridge, said the project will likely not impact his own plans to build a home in the town. A DOT representative at the public meeting highlighted the age of the bridge with Whitney as they described the project to him.

“I didn’t realize it was that old. I’m glad that they are being proactive,” Whitney said. “It was great to come here and meet everybody. I’m very comfortable with them moving forward with it even though my property is right next door.”


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