Schenectady County

Project will replace aging Rte. 7 bridge

The aging bridge that carries Route 7 over the Northway is being replaced as part of a $40 millio

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The aging bridge that carries Route 7 over the Northway is being replaced as part of a $40 million project that will include sidewalks and a way for bicyclists to safely cross.

About 40,000 vehicles use the bridge each day, making it one of the most heavily used roads in the region. Much of that traffic is coming off and getting onto the Northway; during the morning and evening rush hours the bridge is often backed up in both directions on Route 7.

To reduce delays, the state Department of Transportation has chosen a single point urban interchange design for the Exit 6 overpass. Traffic lights will be removed and all ramps will converge at a signal at the middle of the intersection.

The right turns on or off the Northway will continue as they are now, said DOT spokesman Peter Van Keuren. The left turns off the Northway onto Route 7, and Route 7 onto the Northway, will change and come to a single signal at the middle of the bridge.

“People who have gone through these interchange designs have said they didn’t realize they were going through one. In some ways, it is seamless,” said Van Keuren. “The two signals that exist now will be reduced to one signal in the middle of the bridge.”

There will be auxiliary lanes constructed in the Northway between exits 5 and 6, said Van Keuren. Some of the work will be done this year.

The new Route 7 bridge will also be about 2 feet higher to provide the minimum vertical clearance needed for tractor trailers. In the past some trucks have not cleared the bridge and struck it.

In addition to the bridge replacement, routes 7 and 2 (Troy-Schenectady Road), from the Wade Road intersection to just east of the Latham Farms intersection, will be replaced. The project will help correct existing sidewalk deficiencies, provide pedestrian access, and make pedestrian facilities ADA compliant, according to Van Keuren.

Sidewalks will be installed on both sides of the road and a mid-block crossing just west of Rensselaer Avenue will be built.

With the single point urban interchange, the capacity can be increased by decreasing the number of traffic lights.

The cost of the project has more than doubled since 2005 when preliminary estimates for replacing the bridge stood at $16 million.

The new price tag is a result of higher cost of materials, including concrete, asphalt and steel.

Van Keuren said preliminary work has started. Most of the work will be done in 2009 and 2010 and during that phase the existing center lane bridge will be reduced from seven to four lanes.

The project completion date is set at 2011.

Categories: Schenectady County

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