City of Cortland receives BridgeNY funds to replace culvert at Maple Avenue

The culvert at Maple Avenue in the city of Cortland that carries Otter Creek. (Photo Source: Kevin L. Smith/The Cortland Voice).

The city of Cortland recently received $1 million of Gov. Kathy Hochul’s $216.2 million BridgeNY Initiative, which will help to replace the culvert at Maple Avenue that assists in carrying Otter Creek.

Cortland is one of 88 municipalities across New York State that has received funds through the BridgeNY Initiative. The Central New York region has received $12.5 million in total for six separate projects.

“Any finances allotted from the state to assist the city of Cortland with flood mitigation and ongoing steam maintenance initiatives are definitely a step in the right direction,” said Nic Dovi, superintendent of the city’s department of public works. “Over the years the city has taken action on replacing or refurbishing many of the structures, but the initiative cannot be completed all at once. Financially and from a public disturbance standpoint, it makes much more sense to have an overall plan, but (still good to) implement replacements as funding becomes available.”

Amanda Barber, manager for the Cortland County Soil and Water Conservation District, said replacing and upsizing culverts is “an important part of flood mitigation in the city.”

“Too often we are reactive instead of proactive when it comes to dealing with flooding and climate change issues,” she said.

Construction to replace the culvert under Maple Avenue is slated to begin in January 2023, Dovi said. He added that a new culvert should be implemented “in a single construction season.”

“Nic and the Cortland community are to be commended for their efforts to advance resiliency strategies we’ve identified in the past,” Barber said.

Dovi noted he is unsure of the culvert’s age, but added it’s “an older structure.”

“It has been deemed hydraulically inadequate,” he said. “The existing structure is not adequate for a two-year designed storm event. The culvert also has shown erosion behind the existing wing walls.”

Dovi said it’s “too early in the design process” to predict any budgetary changes for the culvert replacement project. However, he said prior BridgeNY funds or funds related to it have been enough to cover past projects.

“Previous structure upgrades and modifications in the city have historically been within or very close to the funding range allotted,” he said.

The past upgrades throughout the city have been through BridgeNY and other sources of funds, Dovi said. Those projects include structures on Madison Street, Arthur Avenue, Otter Creek at Groton Avenue, Rickard Street, Brown Avenue/Homer Avenue and North Main Street/Willow Avenue.

Dovi noted the city submitted two other BridgeNY applications that were denied. The one application was for a bridge replacement on Floral Avenue, and the other for a culvert replacement on Lincoln and Townley Avenue.