ITHACA, N.Y. — As Ithaca Voice staff inboxes can attest, nothing gets West Hill engaged quite like changes to traffic patterns. With that in mind, the city planning board will be considering granting final site plan approval to the new Brindley Street Bridge later this month.

The plan calls for building a new 560 feet of road that includes a two-way, two lane wide bridge extending from the intersection of West State Street and Taughannock Boulevard, past Trombley Tire, across a tongue of the inlet, and connecting with Taber Street where the current Brindley Street turns into Taber. The old one lane wide bridge will be converted into a pedestrian and bike path, with a small parking lot maintained on the north end next to West State Street. That means that the rather awkward and crash prone intersection of Brindley, West State and West Seneca Street will be practically eliminated (practically means nearly but not 100% completely because there will still be a parking lot next to the Ithaca Sign Works Building).

City engineering staff do not anticipate significant increases or decreases in travel times as a result of the new bridge. There’s no substantial reduction in distance for commuters on Brindley, and the circuitous Brindley/Taber/Cherry/Cecil B. Malone route to Wegman’s from Inlet Island will still be a circuitous and slow route when compared to South Fulton and Meadow Streets.

The new bridge will use steel railings painted dark green, and some of the drawings show ornamental bridge lighting (the renderings do not, however). Plans to use concrete “Texas Aesthetic Railings” like those on West State Street had to be shelved due to weight considerations – the soil here is waterlogged and weak, and the bridge has to be fairly light as a result.

The edges of the bridge embankment will be re-seeded with native trees and plants, while the embankment and sides of the old Brindley/new pedestrian and bike path will receive solar-powered lamp posts and be seeded with wildflower mix. Steel bollards filled with concrete will prevent accidental drivers onto the old Brindley bridge, The Aeroplane Factory would receive a new driveway on Taber Street, and cedar fencing for the sake of privacy. Local firm TWMLA is the landscape architect in charge.

As with most municipal projects, construction is a little ways out. Construction is expected to begin in late spring or summer of next year, with completion in Fall 2019. The old bridge will remain open while the new one is under construction, and once the new bridge is open, the old one will be retrofitted and closed off to vehicles.

Brian Crandall

Brian Crandall reports on housing and development for the Ithaca Voice. He can be reached at bcrandall@ithacavoice.com.