State holds up $1 million in county reserves

NORWICH – Chenago County lawmakers were surprised to learn last Wednesday that anticipated state aid for replacing the Halfway House Bridge had been flagged at the state comptroller’s office in Albany since October.

Construction of a new bridge got underway in September after the state transportation department signed off on the $2.5 million project. Approximately one million dollars in county highway reserves has already been paid out to contractors.

“That $1 million is money this department needs to do projects we already have planned for May and June,” Public Works Director Randy Gibbon told members of the Chenango County Public Works Committee Thursday. “It’s ridiculous. We are being penalized for a mistake that the state made, because we have no recourse.”

The bridge, also known as county Route 32B, connects state Route 12 to county Route 32 and lies between the towns of Norwich and Oxford. Replacing it was an original part of a $8 million Route 32 road enhancement project initiated by the county back in 2002. Both approvals and funding for the now six-year-old project have been delayed over the years due to an historic barn that needed to be removed and legal questions regarding a railroad crossing perpendicular to the new bridge’s entrance off of 32.

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