Route 31 has big changes ahead
By Wilson Wong and Tucker Cergol
Let’s pretend it’s just a typical day in the Town of Sweden. You just got out of work or class and you need to go home, or to Walmart ,or to Buckmans to get your car washed but you can’t because the entire Route 31 running through Sweden is closed for construction. Very soon, that might be reality.
The New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT) and the Town of Sweden have announced a transportation project to be done on Route 31 running through Sweden. Route 31 is the state road that often hosts heavy traffic daily that will be getting fixed in the coming years.
Recently, the project was approved by the Sweden board and the NYSDOT. An advocate for this project to be passed was the town supervisor Kevin Jonhson. Back in the summer of 2019, when the project was approved, the plans for the project had not been released, but Johnson was able to help separate rumors from the truth about what can be expected from the project.
“We were unable to get the grant for a sidewalk. There will be an extension to the turning lane from Walmart to the Spurr Plaza,” Johnson said. “But that won’t be for a few years.”
When approved construction for the project was estimated to start around 2020/2021. However, it may be a longer wait for construction to start.
Projects like these can last a long time and there are many reasons why these projects need to be put in motion far in advance. David Goehring, a retired worker from the New York State Department of Transportation, highlights how projects get assigned.
“It can be because the pavement surface is so bad, and it’s beyond just fixing potholes. We could have a project because the bridge is structurally deficient, and then there are also safety related projects where we identify needs and where safety could be improved,” Goehring said.
Outside of why projects are put together, there are many other things that need to be looked at as well.
“When I was with NYSDOT, we needed to figure out what the problem was, then the solution to that problem and how much does it cost. Also is there private property that needs to be purchased adjacent to the roadway to make everything happen the right way. There are all sorts of things that have to go into that,” Goehring said.
These projects become very complex by not just affecting people using it for transportation, but for people who work for businesses on this road as well. Another aspect to look at is how businesses could possibly be affected by a major road closure. Despite the possible loss of customers for businesses along Route 31, Buckmans Car Wash employee Madison Hares-Ryan believes that construction on the road is needed.
“I think that the renovations would be great. It’s a really crappy road,” Hares-Ryan said. “I think it definitely needs to be expanded. I think it will definitely slow it [business] down for a little bit but that’s to be expected in business sometimes you have to pause things to take a step forward. In the end it will be a lot better.”
Route 31 construction may not be scheduled for 2020 or 2021 but renovations to the road are coming in the near future. While it may have you take a detour, in the end the construction on Route 31 will allow you to make the trip to Walmart, Buckmans, or back home from work on a new, smooth road.