Forest Home Drive is open to traffic!

Crews have removed the barriers, and Forest Home Drive has reopened near the Thurston Avenue bridge after nearly two and a half years of a “temporary” closure. The roadway was open to traffic at about 3:30pm Thursday.

Open at last! Forest Home Drive along Fall Creek Gorge. 14850 Photo by Mark H. Anbinder.

Cornell officials had announced on September 16th, 2015, that the roadway would be closed between the intersection with East Avenue and Thurston Avenue and the service drive to Olin Laboratory, near Martha Van Rensselaer Hall, “due to ongoing erosion of the gorge wall” along Fall Creek Gorge.

A project to shore up the gorge began at the end of August, and was originally slated to be completed about a week ago.

City of Ithaca bridge systems engineer Addisu Gebre told us last summer that the project included “three primary components:”

  • A soil nail wall will be installed to repair the damaged portion of the Forest Home Drive retaining wall
  • About 20 feet of new retaining wall will be built eastward from the east end of the existing southeast bridge abutment, and new sidewalk and masonry wall will be built to match the existing structures
  • Existing beam support for the 16-inch sewer main will be reinforced

The delayed completion date is due to the need for “additional nailings.”

Forest Home Drive meanders along Fall Creek from the east end of University Avenue on Ithaca’s east hill through the Forest Home neighborhood adjacent to the Cornell campus, over two one-lane bridges, around the Cornell Botanic Gardens, and to Route 366 in Varna.

Pedestrians have gotten used to crossing at the intersection where Forest Home Drive was closed, and at the mid-block crosswalk near Cornell’s Martha Van Rensselaer Hall and Toboggan Lodge, without worrying about cars, so Cornell officials say they’ll put up warning signage to alert pedestrians to the return of vehicular traffic.

The city-owned road will be closed briefly again this summer for repaving, which isn’t feasible in the winter.

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