Work to help road safety on Cobleskill campus

When motorists drive west on Route 7 through Cobleskill, they cruise through the middle of the 750-a

When motorists drive west on Route 7 through Cobleskill, they cruise through the middle of the 750-acre SUNY Cobleskill campus and they may not even know it.

Aside from a few signs, some road paint and the many students crossing the street, the roadway looks like any other.

But with the help of more than $1.4 million in grant funding, the college intends to create a landscaped median, add sidewalks and make other improvements expected to improve student safety and create a better view.

An allocation of $1,403,841 announced by the office of Gov. David Paterson to support the project combines money from the federal Transportation Enhancement Program and American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

“A lot of people don’t realize they’re going through the campus,” said Phil Arnold, director of facilities management at SUNY Cobleskill, who wrote an application seeking the funding.

“We have a campus of 2,600 students and this huge commuter lot. We want to make it as safe as possible,” he said.

Adding a median, a bike path, decorative lighting and banners, modifying crosswalks and installing fencing could improve safety by making people aware they’re driving through a campus, Arnold said.

“All this would decrease the risk to pedestrians and cyclists and decrease the accidents along that road. It’s a worthwhile project and it will actually give the campus an identity along Route 7, which it doesn’t really have right now,” he said.

Prior to the current economic meltdown, projects funded through the Transportation Enhancement Program required a 20 percent match by the recipient.

But the infusion of American Recovery and Reinvestment Act money will eliminate the local contribution entirely.

The project is categorized as a high priority in the college’s master plan, Arnold said, so he expects that an architectural firm will be sought soon for the design work.

Projects funded with recovery act money have to be completed by March 3, 2012, and Arnold said he doesn’t expect any difficulty meeting that deadline.

Arnold said he is still hoping that more funding streams are made available soon to help pay for a project that would add a roundabout to the college entrance.

Improvements to the roadway would be combined with work now in the planning stages by the state Department of Transportation.

The DOT is designing plans for a $6 million project to replace the bridge that carries Route 7, or West Main Street, over the railroad tracks.

Construction on that project is expected to start in the winter of 2010, according to the DOT Web site.

Categories: Schenectady County

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