A plan for an off-road bicycle and pedestrian trail along Geyser Road that has been advocated for a decade is finally moving into the design phase.
The two-mile trail would run along the north side of Geyser Road from the Milton Town line to Route 50.
Wally Elton of the Southwest Neighborhood Association said Saratoga Springs city officials expect to have a request for proposals on the design and engineering work out by the end of April.
“It’s exciting,” he said.
Molly Gagne, a longtime member of the Southwest Neighborhood Association, said she has been advocating for the trail for at least 10 years.
“We are so isolated out here because of [Geyser Road],” she said.
Geyser Road is a heavily used road that serves the Geyser Crest neighborhood, home to about 20 percent of the city’s population.
City Finance Commissioner Michele Madigan said at last week’s City Council meeting that the city’s 2013 capital projects budget contains $150,000 for the Geyser Road trail.
She said Geyser Crest residents were getting concerned that the project would be delayed again, as it has in recent years.
“We are in agreement to move ahead,” Madigan said.
Mayor Scott Johnson said Monday that work has started on the request for proposals so the work can be put out to bid.
“We want to make it shovel-ready,” he said about getting the project designed and engineered. Having the trail ready to be built would make the project eligible for certain types of state and federal grant money.
Elton, who is retired from the Parks and Trails New York program, said at least two opportunities for state and federal grants are expected later in the year.
Once the trail gets to the Route 50-Geyser Road intersection, one proposal would have the trail going east toward West Avenue and then crossing West Avenue to Railroad Run, Elton said. This would allow walkers and cyclists to go from the Geyser Crest neighborhood into downtown Saratoga Springs without trying to ride or walk along the busy Geyser Road.
At first, city officials were considering keeping the $150,000 in the 2013 capital projects budget as the matching part of a matching state or federal construction grant. Later they discovered that the project would have to be designed and ready for construction to qualify for the grant money.
“Our goal is to get the project moving now. We didn’t want to wait until the fall,” Madigan said Monday. She said she was able to include the $150,000 for the project in last fall’s 2013 capital projects budget.
Johnson said the RFP for the design and engineering work should be ready to be released within the next few weeks. He said a contract for the work could then be awarded this summer.
Several years ago, the Geyser Road bridge over the railroad tracks was replaced by the county, and the new bridge was built with a bike and pedestrian lane in anticipation of the Geyser Road trail.
Gagne said the Southwest Neighborhood Association, with the help of Saratoga Springs Supervisor Matthew Veitch who is an association member, paid for a survey and environmental scoping documents for the trail.
A feasibility study for the trail done by engineers Greenman-Pedersen Inc. of Albany three years ago indicated that the trail could be built at an estimated cost of $1.5 million.
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