A joint project to remove an unused railroad bridge on Ithaca’s east hill and widen the roadway will require fully closing a stretch of Pine Tree Road for most of this summer. The road will be closed between Maple Avenue and Dryden Road (Route 366) from June 13th through August 18th.
Officials at Cornell University say the project is a joint effort involving Tompkins County, the Town of Ithaca, and Cornell that will improve conditions for drivers, cyclists, and pedestrians. They add that “some lane closures may occur” before and after the two-month stretch when the road is completely closed, and the project will be completed in early November.
It’s the northernmost stretch of Pine Tree Road, a major thoroughfare connecting the Cornell campus and surrounding area to Route 79 to get in and out of town, and providing access to offices, shops, businesses, and eateries in and around East Hill Plaza, including the P&C Fresh supermarket, Agava Restaurant, Rite Aid pharmacy, Cornell’s East Hill Office Building, Best Western Hotel, Wings Over Ithaca, and the Wednesday afternoon Ithaca Farmers Market.
According to the announcement from Cornell, the project includes removing an old railroad bridge that passes over the north end of Pine Tree Road and whose abutments provide a very narrow passage for cyclists and pedestrians alongside traffic lanes. A pedestrian bridge will be replaced and a ten-foot-wide path will be built between Maple Avenue and Dryden Road, offering a pedestrian and cycling route. Part of the East Ithaca Recreation Way will be closed during the construction phase, and TCAT buses will need to be rerouted. Local access will be maintained to the Cornell Print Shop and the Fish Hatchery.
Project organizers say detour signage will be provided that routes vehicle traffic approaching from the south right onto Ellis Hollow Road, left onto Game Farm Road east of East Hill Plaza, and then left onto Route 366 just west of Varna. Vehicle traffic approaching from the north will be detoured out Route 366, right onto Game Farm Road, and right onto Ellis Hollow Road.
Maple Avenue and Mitchell Street will also provide access to Pine Tree Road south of the affected stretch, but neither is intended for heavy through traffic, and Maple Avenue will be impacted by work at Cornell’s Maplewood complex this summer.
The intersection of College Avenue and Dryden Road will also be closed starting Monday for an ongoing construction project, meaning Collegetown will not offer a viable detour.
According to Tompkins Consolidated Area Transit (TCAT), the Pine Tree Road closure will require rerouting both Route 51 and Route 52. TCAT says “both routes inbound to campus will travel from Pine Tree Road onto Maple Avenue and then left onto Route 366, back onto normal route. Outbound, both routes from Route 366 will take left onto Maple Avenue and right onto Pine Tree Road.” Both routes will serve stops at Maple Hill Apartments and Humphreys Service Building.