Provided Photo The Route 63 bridge replacement project, which was completed in September of 2020 is the recipient of the American Public Works Association Genesee Valley Chapter’s 2020 Project of the Year Award.

GENESEO – The Route 63 bridge replacement project in Geneseo, that was completed in September of 2020, has been recognized as one of the state’s top infrastructure projects of last year.

New York State Department of Transportation Commissioner Marie Therese Dominguez announced Tuesday that the project is the recipient of the American Public Works Association Genesee Valley Chapter’s 2020 Project of the Year Award in the Transportation $5 million to $25 million category.

The achievement recognizes excellence in creativity, ingenuity and efficiency in public works projects which have a significant impact on the community, Dominguez said.

“The Route 63 Project was a win-win for the New York State Department of Transportation and the community we serve. By investing in our state infrastructure and applying some innovative engineering and construction solutions as we built this bridge, DOT was able to enhance safety and provide better connectivity for the thousands of daily motorists who travel along Route 63 in Livingston County,” Dominguez said in a news release. “I congratulate our NYSDOT staff and our contracting partners in their efforts to complete this project on time and on budget in the middle of a global pandemic and thank them for their professionalism and expertise.”

Construction on the $8.7 million project began in June 2019. The new bridge replaced 70-year-old truss bridge carrying Route 63 over the Genesee River. The project also included construction of a modern roundabout at the intersection of Route 63 and Court Street, near the SUNY Geneseo Campus.

The new bridge carrying traffic on Route 63 over the Genesee River was built parallel and 65 feet to the west of the existing bridge to prevent traffic disruptions during the construction process. The new bridge features 12-foot wide travel lanes to better accommodate commercial vehicles and 8-foot-wide shoulders to enhance safety for bicyclists and pedestrians along Route 63.

As part of the project, the intersection of Route 63 and Court Street was transformed into a three-legged concrete roundabout designed to promote traffic flow while reducing speeds and the severity of crashes at the intersection.

Construction was completed by Ramsey Constructors of Lakeville.

Both the new bridge and roundabout opened to traffic last September.

“The new bridge and roundabout are improvements that have a positive impact every day for students, employees, and visitors who enter our campus from Route 63,” SUNY Geneseo President Denise A. Battles, who is also co-chair of the Finger Lakes Regional Economic Development Council, said. “We are grateful for the resources and expertise of the Department of Transportation, whose improvements helped make our community safer.”

Previous attempts to slow down traffic with a stop light and reduced speed limits at the intersection of Court Street and Route 63 did not work. The roundabout works as a traffic calming device, the requires motorists –including tractor-trailers – to slow down as they approach the intersection and pay attention as they navigate the intersection.

The old bridge, built in 1950, was identified as “structurally deficient,” according to state Department of Transportation data, with a 3.97 score on DOT’s seven-point condition rating scale.

Any bridge that ranks below a five is defined as deficient, according to the DOT, and the “structurally deficient” rating means the bridge’s “significant load carrying elements are found to be in poor or worse condition due to deterioration and/or damage.”

The DOT definition goes on to note that a “structurally deficient” status “does not mean bridges are unsafe, but rather that they require repairs or modifications to restore their condition to improve their functionality.”

The intersection of Route 63 and Court Street was identified as a high accident location in a 2003 state Department of Transportation study of the Route 63 corridor.

According to the study, 21 accidents occurred at the intersection from 1997 to 2000. Of those accidents, four of them involved vehicles failing to yield the right of way when pulling out from Court Street onto Route 63. Seven of the accidents, or 33 percent, involved heavy trucks.

“Route 63 southbound vehicles were rear ended while slowing or stopping to make a left turn onto Court Street,” read one passage of the study. “High speed and limited visibility, due to the bridge northwest of the intersection, are probable accident causes.”

Roundabouts are increasingly being considered at intersections with a lot of right-angle accidents, particularly where people making left turns are getting hit. Roundabouts have been found to reduce accidents the most, even more than a three-color traffic signal, which can contribute to more rear-end accidents when people are forced to stop when they’re not ready to, traffic engineers have previously told The Livingston County News.

Roundabouts force motorists to slow down, and motorists also only have worry about traffic coming from one direction, the engineers said.

Local representatives from the New York State Department of Transportation accepted the award on behalf of the Commissioner during a virtual awards ceremony on April 22.

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For additional information on roundabouts, people can visit, at https://www.dot.ny.gov/main/roundabouts.

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