Pine Tree Road closed to through traffic last Monday, and it wasn’t long before contractors took down the old railroad bridge that spanned the road for decades.
The bridge used to serve the East Ithaca rail line that stopped at the East Ithaca Depot, whose building is now Agava Restaurant. A new pedestrian bridge over Pine Tree Road will be built this summer as part of the project.
Since the bridge was taken down, crews have used heavy equipment to tear down the concrete abutments that had been holding it up. The abutments close to the roadway made the northern end of Pine Tree Road unsafe for pedestrians and cyclists.
Pine Tree Road is a major thoroughfare connecting the Cornell campus and surrounding area to Route 79 to get in and out of town, and provides access to offices, shops, businesses, and eateries in and around East Hill Plaza, as well as the Wednesday afternoon summer Ithaca Farmers Market.
While the official detour takes motorists east to Game Farm Road via Ellis Hollow Road and Route 366, some motorists are using Maple Avenue, causing traffic to back up at the intersection with Dryden Road.
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.
Video by Jeff Smith courtesy of Cornell University.