Route 281 Reconstruction and Widening

Location Cortland County, New York

Owner New York State Department of Transportation

Client New York State Department of Transportation

  • Highway/Roadway Design
  • Stormwater/Pavement Drainage Design
  • Sewer Facility Planning/Design
  • Culinary Water System Design
  • Hydraulic Analysis/Design
  • Hydrologic Analysis/Design
  • Pavement Evaluation/Design
  • Structural Design
  • Culvert Design
  • Utility Engineering
  • Intersection Analysis/Design
  • Signal Design
  • Environmental Assessment
  • Cultural Resource Evaluation
  • Public Outreach/Involvement
  • Permit Acquisition/Coordination
  • Alternatives Development and Analysis
  • Final Plans, Specifications, and Estimates (PS&E)
  • Construction Phasing Plan Development
  • Maintenance-of-Traffic (MOT) Plan Development

Commercial development in Cortland County had led to greatly increased traffic volumes on Route 281. The two-lane roadway was frequently congested and required safety and infrastructure improvements. Lochner led the preliminary and final design phases of a project to widen and reconstruct 3.8 miles of Route 281, between Route 13 and the I-81 access road in Homer, to provide four travel lanes, a center turn lane, and sidewalks.

During the preliminary design phase, Lochner developed and evaluated design alternatives, prepared an environmental assessment document, and coordinated a well-attended public involvement program. Lochner’s design alternatives included many creative solutions to address the complexities of the project corridor.

The entire project was located over a sole-source aquifer that provided drinking water to 35,000 people. In addition, the project ran through an area known as the Cortland City Water Works, which was listed as a Critical Environmental Area by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. Stormwater treatment and discharge were therefore critical elements of the project design. Dense commercial development, aquifer regulations, and a lack of drainage outfalls made the drainage design particularly challenging. Lochner coordinated closely with state and local agencies during the design, and the final stormwater system incorporated two stormwater detention ponds with an innovative system of shallow infiltration pipes between the curb and sidewalk area to treat stormwater before its infiltration into the aquifer.

To minimize environmental impacts through the Cortland City Water Works area, Lochner removed the center turn lane from this section of the roadway. Lochner also—in response to public concern about property impacts—reduced the designed lane widths from 12 feet to 11 feet and limited the sidewalk to one side of the road.

Several properties along this section of Route 281 were listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Lochner minimized impacts to these properties as much as possible, but for instances of potential physical or visual impact, Lochner created 3D visualizations that were used in public meetings to give stakeholders a full understanding of the build condition.

The project was split into three phases for final design and construction. Lochner has performed final design for Phases I and II, which run a total of 3.25 miles between Route 13 and Fisher Avenue. The design plans included the relocation of a sanitary force main, sanitary gravity sewers, water mains and service connections, and 91 utility poles. Many utility conflicts needed to be resolved. Lochner engaged in extensive coordination with all utility service providers, allowing construction activities to proceed quickly and efficiently. Lochner’s final design also included the replacement of seven traffic signals and the addition of new signals at three intersections, all controlled by wireless communication. Lochner worked closely with officials from the State University of New York (SUNY) Cortland campus to design a new signalized intersection in conjunction with SUNY’s plans for a new primary entrance into campus. The ease of access helped SUNY Cortland land a contract to host the training camp for the New York Jets. Lochner also performed structural design for a new six-lane bridge over Dry Creek and the replacement of two large box culverts.

Awards & Recognitions:

2018 American Council of Engineering Companies New York Engineering Excellence Silver Award

2011 American Public Works Association Central New York Chapter Transportation Project of the Year

2011 American Council of Engineering Companies New York Engineering Excellence Platinum Award

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