Schenectady County

Safety work to start on Rotterdam 5S trail crossing

Construction on a trail crossing meant to make navigating across Route 5S less dangerous will begin

Construction on a trail crossing meant to make navigating across Route 5S less dangerous will begin this week.

The safety upgrades to the Mohawk-Hudson Bike-Hike Trail in Rotterdam Junction will include a flashing beacon system to warn motorists, bikers and other trail users of the crossing, county officials said in a news release announcing the plan.

The work will take several weeks, but the trail will stay open during that time, officials said. Callanan Industries Inc. of Schenectady has been contracted for the $154,000 project, and the improvements were designed by Creighton Manning Engineering of Albany.

“Improving safety at the Route 5S bike trail crossing has been a priority of mine and my fellow members of the county Legislature,” Chairman Anthony Jasenski said in the release. “The Mohawk-Hudson Bike-Hike Trail is one of the great recreational and quality of life assets we have in Schenectady County.”

Rotterdam Junction Fire Chief Shawn Taylor said the crossing has been a concern of his for years, and he’s glad to see the improvements finally starting to happen.

“Anything is going to be better than the system they have in place now, which is really nothing,” he said. “I’m all for some type of signaling.”

Traffic moves through the intersection at speeds well above the posted 40 mph speed limit. In 2006, a vehicle struck and killed 73-year-old cyclist Al Fairbanks at the crossing, prompting a 2008 Capital District Transportation Committee study of the intersection.

Taylor said the system will work only if the signals are heeded by motorists, and if the speed limit is enforced.

“I would hope there would be some [Rotterdam police] support in working with the new setup to make sure people are slowing down through there,” he said.

The flashing beacons will be motion-activated by trail users, but push buttons will be available as backup, county officials said. More beacons on Route 5S in advance of the crossing will be activated in concert with the beacons at the crossing.

The trail crossing will also be realigned to shorten the length of the crosswalk, which now takes cyclists on a diagonal path across the road. The new crosswalk will go straight across.

New pavement markings and signage will be added to the trail, and vegetation will be cleared to improve visibility.

The clearing of vegetation should help, Taylor said.

“Because of the curve of the road and because of the high foliage in the area, it does make it hard for bicyclists to see … so you can’t really get a good judge of where vehicles are,” he said.

Signs directing trail users to the nearby Rotterdam Kiwanis Park also will be installed to discourage people from parking next to the crossing, officials said.

The project is being funded through the Federal Highway Administration, the state Department of Transportation, the Capital District Transportation Committee and Schenectady County, officials said. The federal government is paying for 80 percent of the project, with the county picking up the rest.

Reach Gazette reporter Ned Campbell at 395-3134, [email protected] or @nedcampbell on Twitter.

Categories: News, Schenectady County

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