Schenectady County

Route 5 paving project gets under way

Construction began Friday on a $6.2 million project that will improve bus, vehicle and pedestrian tr

Construction began Friday on a $6.2 million project that will improve bus, vehicle and pedestrian traffic along Route 5, the Capital Region’s busiest transportation corridor.

State Department of Transportation Acting Commissioner Stanley Gee and U.S. Rep. Paul Tonko, D-Amsterdam, on Friday announced the project during a news conference at the DOT’s Regional Headquarters on State Street in Schenectady.

In a side issue, just before the event began, a Rotterdam woman crashed her car into the headquarters building. Police said Hannah Johnson, 22, was not injured.

Police said she was trying to light a cigarette while turning right from State Street onto Broadway and hit the building to avoid a pedestrian crossing the street.

At the news conference, the state said it is using federal stimulus money to do the work. It involves resurfacing nearly eight miles of Route 5 between downtown Schenectady and downtown Albany, building 36 new handicapped-accessible bus shelter ramps, installing curb cuts at 159 intersections and upgrading pedestrian signals at 34 intersections.

Callanan Industries of Schenectady received the contract for the work. Work is scheduled to be completed by fall 2010.

The work will prepare the corridor for the Capital District Transportation Authority’s Bus Rapid Transit service, BusPlus. BusPlus is designed to relieve congestion, promote use of the rapid transit system, reduce energy consumption and improve air quality, among other enhancements, officials said.

Gee called Route 5 the main thoroughfare between Albany and Schenectady, serving up to 43,000 vehicles per day. “It not only accommodates commuters but also transit users and visitors to the region and is an important artery for businesses and other developments along the route,” he said.

BusPlus will run along the 17-mile corridor between downtown Schenectady and downtown Albany. When operational, the CDTA buses will have signal priority along the route and will use special lanes that will allow them to jump traffic queues at major intersections. CDTA will operate high-capacity hybrid vehicles along the corridor.

“The BusPlus project addresses a sense of urgency associated with the rapid growth of demand for transit service within the corridor,” CDTA Interim Executive Director Carm Basile said.

BusPlus is expected to reduce travel time for riders by at least 25 percent through signal priority and dedicated bus lanes. The route will also accommodate bicycle and pedestrian use.

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