Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — Reconstruction of a portion of Lincoln Avenue should start in early 2014, according to a county public works official.
The concrete slab-based stretch of Lincoln between Beattie Avenue and Akron Road will be pulled up, town-side water line will be replaced, “yard drains” will be installed on private properties, and the road will be rebuilt from asphalt. Also, left-turn lanes will be installed for north- and southbound traffic on Beattie at Lincoln, and for north- and southbound traffic on Davison Road at Lincoln.
It’s a $6 million-plus project that’s mostly federally funded, and has been in the works for several years, according to Rick Eakin, deputy commissioner of public works.
If the details sound new to some people, it’s likely due to letters that Lincoln Avenue property owners recently received from the state Department of Transportation, which is handling land acquisition and access issues for the county.
The letters were “alarming” to some residents because they referenced eminent domain, according to Lockport legislator Rick Updegrove.
DOT is negotiating land acquisition and easements with private property owners due only to the sheer number of easements needed for the Lincoln Avenue reconstruction project, according to Eakin. Addition of left-turn lanes at the Beattie and Davison intersections will require the county to take over right-of-way at four properties, three commercial and one residential. The county also needs temporary or permanent easements on 73 properties to reconstruct Lincoln and maintain drainage improvements afterward.
Easements give the county the right to go on private property as needed, without getting the owners’ permission each and every time. Property owners are compensated for the easements, Eakin said; payments are based on appraised value of the land.
Eminent domain — the forced sale of private property to the government — can come into play in cases where land owners dispute an appraisal, according to Eakin. The state has the authority to “take” needed land immediately, and hash out value disputes with the owners in court afterward, whereas the county has to get a judicial determination of fair market value before proceeding with projects, he said.
The county is seeking permanent easements on a number of parcels, to have unfettered access to 10-foot-by-10 foot areas where yard drains will be installed. The drains should help reverse a longstanding water pooling issue in the neighborhood, Eakin said.
Replacement of water line servicing properties on the south side of Lincoln Avenue is a new feature of the project. Originally the county planned to move existing water line, which is buried beneath the road, but it’s ending up less costly to simply install new line, Eakin said. The federal government, which is funding 95 percent of the road reconstruction tab, will pick up the cost of water line installation as well, he said.
If easement and land-takeover issues are settled by the end of next year, reconstruction of Lincoln Avenue should start in early 2014. Eakin said he expects the work will take two construction seasons, meaning it’ll be finished in 2015.