The village of Ballston Spa is developing a Complete Streets plan, as village leaders look to make the Saratoga County seat more friendly to bicyclists and pedestrians as part of its economic development efforts.
Consultants will hold virtual workshops on two Thursdays, Nov. 19 and Dec. 3, to educate village leaders and residents on the concept of Complete Streets — the idea that streets should be designed and operated to enable safeety for all users, not just automobiles.
Each workshop will run from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. In between, participants will be asked to go out and “audit” transportation issues in parts of the village.
The village has received a Capital District Transportation Committee grant for most of the cost of a $90,000 Linkage Study, to develop a plan to improve pedestrian and bicycle access, create safe street crossings, calm traffic and improve the link to Saratoga County’s Zim Smith Trail, The recreation trail runs from Mechanicville to Ballston Spa, but ends on the village’s periphery.
The study is being conducted by Planning4Places of Niskayuna in conjunction with Sam Schwartz Engineering, a national engineering firm, and VHB, an Albany engineering firm. Work is to start in December, and is expected to take close to a year. The firms will analyze existing conditions for pedestrians, cyclists, public transportation users and others, take public input, and recommend solutions.
Ballston Spa has a well-developed downtown sidewalk system, but poor sidewalks in many neighborhoods and no sidewalks in some areas, including the walking route along state Route 67 west to the Wood Road elementary school complex and county social services building.
“There are a lot of gaps,” said Village Trustee Liz Kormos, who is involved in the village’s transportation planning efforts.
Transportation improvements are among the topics discussed in the village’s new economic development plan, which were completed this fall by the Saratoga County Prosperity Partnership, the county economic development organization.
Kormos acknowledged that a better and safer connection to the Zim Smith Trail is something people in the village have talked about for a long time, and that both walking and cycling can feel unsafe in parts of the village.
She is hoping the study will include recommendations for low-cost items like re-striping lanes as well as more-expensive long-term solutions to the village’s alternative transportation needs.
“We’ve got a long list and this is a first step,” Kormos said. “Once you have a plan, then you can apply for funding.”
The study will also examine whether the closing of part of Front Street during the warm months for outdoor dining — done this past summer to aid local restaurants because of the pandemic — should be considered for the long-term, Kormos said.
Anyone who would like to sign up for the Nov. 19 and Dec. 3 Zoom workshops may do so by emailing [email protected].