The replacement of an 85-year-old bridge in Broome County is underway.

The New York State Department of Transportation April 4 announced the official start of the $12.6 million project on State Route 79 to replace the bridge over the Chenango River in the Town of  Fenton in northern Broome County.

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The D.O.T. says the span replacement will enhance safety and improve travel on a vital roadway that connects the rural areas of northern Broome with State Route 17 and Interstates 81, 86 and 88.

The route is also frequently used to get to Route 12 and as a pathway to Ithaca and Cortland.

Town of Fenton Supervisor Gary Holcomb points out the improvements should also enhance safety and access to Chenango Valley State Park.

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Transportation officials say the old bridge will be replaced with a three-span, multi-girder structure about a half-mile upstream from the existing structure, stretching over the Chenango River from the Town of Greene in Chenango County to the Town of Fenton in Broome County. The project will also include turning lanes, bike lanes and new crosswalks.

The existing bridge will remain open until the new span is operational. The project is scheduled to be completed in the fall of next year.

Once the project is done, the old bridge will be demolished and the defunct section of Route 79 between the old and new bridges will be repaved and turned over to local municipalities to maintain access to homes in that area.

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