Drivers in Ithaca face a sudden challenge as construction crews appear on what seems like every street. The mayor held a press conference Friday explaining why there's a sudden frenzy of roadwork. And as our Tamara Lindstrom tells us, it's likely to get worse before it gets better.
ITHACA, N.Y. -- With more than sixty construction projects scheduled for 2012, the city that's known for being green is suddenly seeing orange.
"People are annoyed that it's taking them longer to get to work and it's taking them longer to get to the grocery store. On the other hand, we're hearing a lot of relief that the streets are finally getting paved. That we're getting to those potholes, that we're replacing the bridges that are falling apart," said Ithaca Mayor, Svante Myrick.
The dozens of projects have led to torn up streets, closed roads and detours zigzagging through the city. It's a situation that has drivers frustrated, and the mayor calling 'Carmageddon.'
"It's going to feel like the end of the world if you're stuck in your car in July for twenty minutes, trying to get up the hill," Myrick said.
And it's going to get worse. The East Clinton Street Bridge, a major thruway to South Hill, is about to close for the rest of the year, after getting poor marks on a state inspection.
"The evaluation did not come out really good, as a 3.4 out of 9," said assistant city engineer Tom West. "It's been scheduled for reconstruction using state and federal funding, and now is its time."
Besides the roadwork, scores of building projects, both public and private will soon be underway. Officials say a thawing of the frozen economy has led to the boom.
"There's a sort of break in the economic log jam," West said. "And so we're seeing some of these projects that have been on the books come to fruition."
"We're also seeing private sector developments that were put on hold for years and are now just coming online and everybody is racing to get their projects completed," Myrick said.
As for the drivers who are sick of being stuck, the mayor recommends taking to the sidewalks instead.
Drivers can stay updated on road closures and construction on the city's website at www.ci.ithaca.ny.us.