Schenectady County finalizes Nott Street safety project design in Niskayuna

Plan modified in response to business concerns
The intersection of Nott Street and Balltown Road in Niskayuna is pictured in January 2019.
The intersection of Nott Street and Balltown Road in Niskayuna is pictured in January 2019.

Categories: News, Saratoga County, Schenectady County

NISKAYUNA — Schenectady County has finalized a modified design for a safety improvement project on Nott Street at its intersection with Balltown Road, county officials announced Friday.

The proposed final design will be discussed by the County Legislature at its May 4 committee meetings, and could be finalized at the May 14 Legislature meeting. Both those meetings are expected to be held by remote conference.

The nearly $1.6 million project, intended to enhance pedestrian and driver safety and upgrade street lighting, has drawn some local opposition, but has the support of county and town officials. It is at one of Niskayuna’s busiest corners, near the Niskayuna Co-op and the turn for the commercial strip that includes a ShopRite supermarket.

A federal highway safety grant awarded in 2016 is paying $1.3 million of the cost, while the Schenectady County Metroplex Development Authority is putting up the required $250,000 local share.

An engineering firm retained by the county had been considering three different designs for the project, which were presented at a public meeting and in smaller meetings with local business owners. The final design incorporates some of the changes they suggested, officials said.

“After the public meeting, we recognized that the concerns of the public, and especially of the building and business owners, needed additional attention,” said County Legislator Michelle Ostrelich, D-Niskayuna.

The final design includes wider sidewalks on both sides of Nott Street, removal of steps in the sidewalk closest to buildings, and angled parking with a raised curb to separate parked cars from traffic lanes. The angled parking will be just off the street, with a design that allows people leaving the parking to enter Nott Street going forward, without having to back into traffic. The plans also include an additional crosswalk and improved visibility for existing crosswalks. A bus stop will be relocated and pedestrian island reconfigured.

Assuming the County Legislature approves, the plans will go to the state Department of Transportation for its final approval. Once that occurs, the plans will come back to the county for final engineering design and preparation of bid specifications. Construction isn’t expected until the spring of 2021.

“Although construction won’t start until next spring, we need to finalize the design now,” said county Legislature Sara Mae Pratt, D-Alplaus, who is another of Niskayuna’s county representatives. “We know it’s difficult to think about these projects in the middle of the COVID-19 shutdown, but these improvements give us an opportunity to breath new life into the strip by making it easier and safer for our residents to shop there.”

Town officials also offered praise for the final design, which county officials said will increase the level of pedestrian and vehicle safety.

“This strip is very special to our town,” said Town Supervisor Yasmine Syed. “I appreciate the cooperation that exists between the town and county on this project.”

“I’ve very pleased that this project addresses safety and walkability — the two biggest priorities I’ve heard voiced by our residents,” said town Councilwoman Rosemarie Perez Jaquith.

Reach staff writer Stephen Williams at 518-395-3086, [email protected] or @gazettesteve on Twitter.

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