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Sun., Dec. 21
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Contractors still aim to complete downtown Canton roadwork this year

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CANTON — Work crews tearing up Main Street have encountered a large amount of ledge rock and other setbacks, but officials are still hopeful they can finish the first phase of the reconstruction project before winter.

During excavation near Riverside Drive and Main Street last week, workers from Luck Bros. Inc., Plattsburgh, found an underground drainage pipe contaminated with asbestos, according to Thomas A. Maroun Jr., project engineer with the state Department of Transportation.

They also ran into ledge rock and soil contaminated with petroleum.

Mr. Maroun said a crew from Op-Tech Environmental Services, Massena, was called in to wrap up and remove the asbestos pipe. The pipe and the contaminated soil are being stockpiled at a DOT storage site on Route 11 between Canton and Potsdam. The soil will be tested and then sent to a waste disposal facility.

“It’s not a hazard to anyone,” Mr. Maroun said. “If we encounter it (asbestos) we have to take care of it.”

It’s not certain yet how crews will deal with the ledge rock.,

“It may have to be busted up or blasted,” Mr. Maroun said Monday. “Those are expensive alternatives, so we’re trying to work around it.”

To help businesses, Mr. Maroun said, the goal is to finish the downtown section first, hopefully before the end of this construction season.

The work season will last as long as the weather allows.

“We’ll work as late as we can,” he said. “Our goal is to get from the bridge past Court and Park streets.”

The remaining stretch, from Court Street to Stiles Avenue, is scheduled to begin next spring.

Work should move at a quicker pace after the traffic detour is put in place, most likely within the next two to three weeks, he said.

The detour will reroute traffic off Main Street by directing it to Route 310, State Street and Riverside Drive.

While many local drivers already take this route to avoid the construction, Mr. Maroun said, large trucks and people unfamiliar with the project are still heading through downtown, which is creating traffic backups during busy travel times.

“All the detour signs are up and ready. We just haven’t uncovered them yet,” he said. “It’s going to be clear to anyone who doesn’t want to get held up in traffic that this is an easier route.”

Each weekday from 6 to 7 a.m. Mr. Maroun gathers with his staff of five DOT engineers to plan the day’s work and discuss any issues. He also meets regularly with Timothy R. Everlath, superintendent of Luck Bros. Inc., the contractor hired for the $9.55 million job.

The DOT engineers are responsible for monitoring the work to make sure the contractor is meeting contract specifications.

Sessions are held at the project field station, 18 Park St., which serves as Mr. Maroun’s office. Travel Unlimited Inc, a travel agency, temporarily moved out of the building.

Instead of travel brochures, the office walls now display aerial photographs of the 1.1-mile project, diagrams and drawings.

The two-year plan involves replacing the old, corroded water and sewer lines from Gouverneur Street to Stiles Avenue. Replacing the storm drainage system and installing new sidewalks, curbing and crosswalks also are planned. The downtown section will include new stairwells, decorative lighting and benches.

Lanes will be reconfigured at the intersections of Riverside Drive and Miner Street and a dedicated right turn lane will be created onto Miner Street. The left turn lane onto Park Street will be lengthened.

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