ITHACA, N.Y. — On the heels of work to the Brindley Street Bridge and the new Taughannock Boulevard Bridge comes a third major road investment over the West End’s waterways – replacement for the Cecil Malone Drive Bridge over the city’s flood relief channel.

The bridge is arguably one of Ithaca’s less-known and less-used, but serves as a major conduit between Cherry Street, Nate’s Floral Estates mobile home park, and the Route 13 retail corridor. It’s also structurally deficient and functionally obsolete after several decades of continuous use.

Along with the need to address the existing bridge’s structural deficiencies, the Cecil Malone Drive Bridge is likely to see increased traffic from increasing mixed-use development along and near Cherry Street, as well as increased non-vehicular travel in the area as the new Black Diamond Bridge over the inlet connects West Hill walkers and bikers to the Cherry Street corridor. The engineering perspective is that the bridge is in bad shape. From a planning perspective, the bridge needs to be rebuilt to handle increased traffic from more people living and working nearby, as a result of development and from more connectivity to surrounding neighborhoods.

As proposed, the new bridge, described as a “full-depth reconstruction” with replacement of the entire existing structure, would be significantly wider than the existing one, over 46 feet wide vs. the current bridge’s 23-foot width. The new span would accommodate a lane of traffic in each direction (each lane one foot wider than it is currently), as well as new bike lanes and sidewalks on both sides, and new box railings on the edges. Water and sewer lines would be moved from aside the bridge, to under the new bridge. The sections of road leading up to the bridge would also be repaved. Decorative old-style lamp lighting is being considered but will be funding-dependent.

The existing pedestrian bridge next to the Cecil Malone Drive Bridge would be moved a little farther from the road bridge during construction, and since the new road bridge will have bike and pedestrian amenities, the pedestrian bridge will be permanently removed once construction is complete.

This might be throwing around a lot of jargon, so maybe a visual helps. If you’ve been on the new Lake Street Bridge next to Ithaca Falls, the new Cecil Malone Drive bridge would be virtually the exact same design, depending on whether they can get the funding for those new fancy old-style streetlamps.

According to the city engineering department’s environmental review paperwork, the project will apply for construction funding next spring and would take about a year from start to finish. Delta Engineers, Architects and Surveyors are assisting the city in the civil engineering and bridge design work.

Brian Crandall

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