Plans for Griffiss parkway accelerated with hope of fuel from stimulus funds

By DAN GUZEWICH Staff writer

With a chance of getting federal stimulus money to fund construction, design work for the completion of a four-lane Route 825 through Griffiss business park could be accelerated.
Griffiss Local Development Corp. is considering hiring a firm to finish laying out the project so the remaining two-lane section of the roadway can be rebuilt four lanes wide — like the rest of the road. This one-mile stretch of 825 is between the roundabout and the Mohawk River bridge highway. The sections of 825 north and south of the two-lane stretch are already four lanes, thanks to earlier state construction projects.

Although it is a state road, the state Department of Transportation does not currently have the money for final design work, much less construction, to make all of 825 four lanes wide. As a result, Griffiss Local Development Corp. is eyeing hiring an engineering firm to detail the work that needs to be done in hopes that with a final plan in hand, federal stimulus money can be obtained to pay for construction. GLDC is overseeing the conversion of the former Air Force base to a business park.

GLDC directors voted Thursday to solicit proposals from engineering firms.
“If you want to get the project done, this might be the best chance,” Steven. J. DiMeo, president of Mohawk Valley EDGE, told the board. EDGE provides staffing to GLDC. He said having a completed design would “enhance our chances we could get it built.”
DiMeo is hopeful that there will be an additional round of stimulus awards after the design work is done, if GLDC proceeds with the project.

Several board members agreed with DiMeo’s assessment of the situation.
Elis DeLia said hiring an engineer to design the project is the “best and probably only shot” at getting the roadway built.

John R. Kent Jr., who also is the county planning commissioner, said GLDC paying for the design work gives the project a “better chance (of getting stimulus money) than if you sit back and do nothing.”

Projects considered “shovel ready” are receiving priority treatment when it comes to doling out stimulus funding.

When asked how much the design work might cost, DiMeo said it could be in the range of $400,000 to $500,000.

He said GLDC has “sufficient cash reserves. We can get the design work done.”
At this point, GLDC is committed to only seeking proposals from engineering firms interested in designing the roadway. It is not obligated to award a contract for the design work.
Construction costs could be in the range of $7 million.

Alice Romanych, spokesperson for the regional DOT office in Utica, said her agency is ready to work with GLDC if it decides hire a firm to design the project.
DiMeo told the GLDC board that DOT has already completed about 40 percent of the design work.

All of Route 825 was designated the Griffiss Veterans’ Memorial Parkway in 2007 after legislation proposing the name was signed into law by then Gov. Eliot Spitzer.

More information can be found at: Rome Sentinel

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