Schenectady County

Busy Glenridge Road shut down

The first phase of a three-year project on Glenridge Road has caused mile-long traffic jams, leading

The first phase of a three-year project on Glenridge Road has caused mile-long traffic jams, leading the state Department of Transportation to ask every driver in the area to find another route home.

The road will be closed from Bradt Road to Bruce Drive until Monday. DOT officials hope to reopen it before Monday morning rush hour. Until then, they want drivers to stay away.

“If you don’t have to go that way, don’t,” said DOT spokeswoman Carol Breen.

She said the detour, which leads through several side roads, was overwhelmed from the start.

“It’s turned into, that’s the detour for if you absolutely have to go that way,” she said. “The side roads can’t handle that amount of traffic.”

Drivers have waited a half-hour to get through one traffic light on Riverview Road during rush hour. Traffic has occasionally backed up to the Rexford Bridge, and even Route 146 has been clogged with cars. Breen advised drivers to avoid those areas, too.

“If it’s possible, take the Northway or the Thruway to get around it. It may be quicker,” she said.

DOT officials knew the work would lead to delays and held meetings with local school transportation directors to work out alternate bus routes. Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake had to reroute only three buses and reported no problems.

But it was more complicated for the Niskayuna Central School District, which has many buses traveling through that area. Several buses have arrived late every day because of the traffic jams, district Transportation Director Tom O’Donnell said, but bus drivers were able to avoid most of the problems with new routes.

On Monday, three buses were 15 minutes late. By Wednesday, only one bus rolled in that late.

“We were prepared for it,” O’Donnell said. “They’ve been great with us. I haven’t been in the dark on anything.”

It’s been far worse for commuters. Christy Multer, spokeswoman for BH-BL schools, vowed never to take the detour again after one experience.

“Boy, was that a mistake,” she said. “I spent half an hour sitting there. A five-minute detour, fine, peachy. But a half-hour detour?”

She’s counting down the days until it’s over.

“I know this is temporary, short-term pain for long-term gain,” she said.

The road is being widened and straightened next year, and a roundabout will be built at the intersection of Glenridge Road and Maple Avenue in 2013. The project will cost $11.7 million.

This week, National Grid is relocating utilities in preparation for that work.

The road has become a major commuter corridor, but traffic backs up at a railroad overpass that is wide enough for only one driving lane to pass beneath. Next year, the underpass will be widened.

But after seeing the traffic jams during this week’s work, DOT officials plan to do the construction in the summer, when traffic is lightest. Commuter traffic will lessen slightly as workers take vacations — and there won’t be any school buses, Breen said.

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