Saratoga County

Route 67 crossing set to be replaced

The overpass on busy Route 67 near Curtis Lumber will be replaced this summer, and the project will
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The overpass on busy Route 67 near Curtis Lumber will be replaced this summer, and the project will include new accommodations for a Saratoga County recreation trail that will run underneath.

The state Department of Transportation project will remove a bridge that once crossed railroad tracks, replacing it with a culvert and lower embankments. Construction bids are to be opened March 27.

A last-minute change made at the request of backers of the Zim Smith recreation trail will widen the concrete culvert so that both bicycles and horses can pass through it on separate paths.

DOT regional spokesman Peter Van Keuren said construction could start as soon as mid-May, and work should be finished in one construction season. The project is budgeted for between $3 million and $3.5 million.

The widening of the culvert will allow the county trail to separate pedestrian and bicycle use from horseback riders and snowmobilers. The trail, which will run from Ballston Spa to Halfmoon, has several segments already built, and advocates hope it will be finished this year.

“We were thrilled,” said Julia Stokes, chairman of Saratoga PLAN, the private advocacy group working to develop an intermunicipal recreation trail system in the county.

Stokes said a dual-path system is needed if the trail is to be shared by bicycles and horses in warm weather and cross-country skiers and snowmobilers in winter.

That wouldn’t be possible without an adequate crossing under busy Route 67, which would otherwise be a bottleneck, she said.

“DOT has done a great favor for Saratoga County on this,” Stokes said. “This is terrific.”

Making the change also sets a precedent for DOT, working with municipal recreation trail plans on its future projects, she said.

Until December, trail advocates hadn’t been able to persuade the state to widen the culvert. The necessary redesigns delayed the state’s bidding by about two months, but new DOT regional director Brian Rowback agreed.

“We knew we were late to the table, so we were pleasantly surprised,” said Ballston Supervisor Patti Southworth, who went with Stokes and others to meet with Rowback.

The Zim Smith trail could someday be part of a network of pedestrian and equine trails across the county, Southworth said. “I think we really need to focus on quality of life issues,” she said.

To accommodate the possibility of horses going through the culvert, DOT has decreased the length of the “tunnel” by 10 feet, from 90 feet to 80 feet. The width was increased from 12 feet to 24 feet. Vertical clearance will be 12 feet.

Van Keuren said widening the culvert will probably add a little to the project’s cost, but it’s still expected to be within the $3.5 million cost estimate.

The bridge being removed was built in 1940. At that time, it took Route 67 across the railroad line that ran between Mechanicville to Ballston Spa.

Van Keuren said a concrete culvert will require less maintenance than a new bridge, and that’s one of the reasons the state opted for one.

The abandoned railroad line is now owned by the county, which has a sewer line running under it.

The construction will include some paving for the Zim Smith trail in the immediate area. The right-of-way is also the route being followed by the county water line now under construction between Moreau and the Luther Forest Technology Campus in Malta, and that work is also expected to happen this year.

According to DOT’s notice to bidders, night construction will be required, because of the amount of traffic on Route 67 during commuting hours.

Route 67 is one of the primary ways commuters from the Ballston Spa area and western Saratoga County reach the Northway. It is used by about 18,000 vehicles per day.

Underpass Road, which is narrow but already goes around the construction zone, will serve as the primary detour, Van Keuren said.

“We are going to make some improvements to Underpass Road before construction starts and also plan to do repairs when it’s done,” Van Keuren said. “The actual detour may only be needed for a month or two.”

Categories: Schenectady County

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