Contractor wants to get Amherst road project into high gear

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – In the construction business, time is money, but the contractor in charge of a $9.4 million road improvement project in Amherst is sounding the alarm about possible delays.

Now that the weather has improved, Accadia Site Contracting, Inc. of Depew wants to get work done on East Robinson Road and North French Road, from Niagara Falls Boulevard to Sweet Home Road, by the end of the year.

Ed Davis of the Town of Tonawanda, who works nearby, has no problem with that.

“Some days there have been 15- to 20-minute backups, where you are waiting to get down the street, and other times, you get right through.”

The road improvement project has been on the drawing board for more than a dozen years: widening of the worn out, pothole-plagued North French-East Robinson Road corridor, which stretches a little more than a mile.

Work started last fall, but company officials say Verizon might be putting that timetable in doubt. Work has been slowed because old utility poles are still in the right-of-way, holding up the widening of the road, and installing the new storm drains.

Anthony Milone, project manager for Accadia, says everything has been moved from the old utility poles to new poles outside of the right-of-way except Verizon’s phone lines, and Accadia’s crews can’t start any of the heavy digging until those old poles have been pulled out.

“Right now we are installing our under-drain system for the roadway,” says Milone. “It is going to cause us delays if we have to start digging in between these poles in order to install our piping.”

But a spokesman for Verizon took issue with Accadia, saying their transfer of the phone lines to the new poles is about two-thirds done, and Verizon crews had to wait until the Time Warner Cable crews were finished before they could take over.

Spokesman John Bonomo says in an e-mail, “Work was halted this week due to heavy rain and other emergency commitments. These weather conditions are not ideal for working safely and efficiently.”

Bonomo adds, Verizon crews will resume work Monday, and wrap up the pole transfers in two weeks.

Sandy Cooke, who just started driving regularly on North French Road, says she just wants it done.

“It is crazy. I can’t get in, I can’t get out.”

When the North French Road-East Robinson Road project is done, it will have five lanes instead of two, new sidewalks, sewers, water lines, and stoplights. As Anthony Milone put it, this will seem like a whole new road.

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