Monday December 10, 2012

ZEKE WRIGHT

Staff Writer

HOOSICK FALLS, N.Y. -- Trustees will solicit for bids this week to fix sections of River Road damaged by Tropical Storm Irene, although work will proceed differently from what was originally outlined last spring.

While the short stretch of roadway represents the sole storm-related repair for the village of Hoosick Falls in the aftermath of Irene, delays over the summer will mean repairs won't be completed until nearly two years after the Aug. 28, 2011, storm.

Mayor Matthew Monahan said village officials planned to award the work this February, scheduling the project to begin as early as allowed next May with a final completion date by the end of June 2013. While repairs were originally expected this year, Monahan said a review over the summer by the Federal Emergency Management Agency delayed plans after a first proposal was returned as "not the best solution."

"The road is going to stay where it is," said Monahan in a recent telephone interview. While the village initially appealed the decision, Monahan said trustees were assured the revised scope would be a permanent fix. "We think it is still going to be a long-term solution ... and FEMA said they will stand behind it."

Repairs are now estimated to cost around $300,000; far below estimates of nearly $1 million for the original project which would have moved the road surface away from the Hoosic riverbank.


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"FEMA said the whole (stretch of) road wasn't affected," said Monahan, causing the proposal to be deemed an "improvement project" not qualifying for federal disaster funds.

Under revised plans, reconstruction will focus on repairing the roadway and shoring up the riverbank in three specific areas affected by Irene. Federal emergency disaster aid typically reimburses at a 75 percent rate for approved disasters, leaving the state and local municipality to split the remaining share. Earlier this year, Gov. Andrew Cuomo's office announced the state would also cover the local share of costs in 25 counties rebuilding from Irene and Tropical Storm Lee.

Following erosion along the riverbank from Irene and additional heavy rain days later, areas of destabilized slope failed causing cracking and deformations in River Road just north of its intersection with Route 22, where the road runs closest to the Hoosic.

In April residents heard from village engineers who proposed realigning the road surface away from the riverbank, approximately the width of the road, or 25 feet, for the course of about 1,000 feet between Route 22 and Wilson Hill Road. The plans would have encroached on two private landowners as well as the town of Hoosick highway garage property.

Engineers said soil samples had confirmed the slope was unstable, and the conceptual plans also called for reinforcement of the slope and/or a gentler pitch to make the bank more stable.

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