Meeting to discuss downtown Schenectady pedestrian improvements

A pedestrian waits to cross at the intersection of Franklin and Lafayette streets in Schenectady Thursday.

A pedestrian waits to cross at the intersection of Franklin and Lafayette streets in Schenectady Thursday.

SCHENECTADY — The city of Schenectady will be outlining plans for $1.1 million in spending to make eight downtown-area intersections more pedestrian friendly during a virtual meeting Tuesday evening, Jan. 19.

The planned work includes safety measures at the intersections like pedestrian signal improvements, building ADA-compliant sidewalk ramps, installing pedestrian warning signs, and creating high-visibility crosswalks.

The work is being done under a $1.1 million federal Pedestrian Safety Act Plan grant awarded through the Capital District Transportation Committee, which controls federal transportation investment in the region.

Most of the work will be at intersections north of State Street, in the core of downtown around City Hall and the Karen B. Johnson Schenectady County Library. The locations are at Liberty Street’s intersections with Eastern Avenue, Nott Terrace, Jay, Clinton, and Broadway; at Franklin Street’s intersections with Clinton, Lafayette, and Nott Terrace.

One intersection in the Stockade, Union Street’s intersection with Ferry Street, is also included.

The objective of the project is to improve pedestrian safety and walkability at select intersections and locations in downtown Schenectady.

“Enhanced walkability not only strengthens pedestrian safety but promotes vibrant and sustainable growth,” Mayor Gary McCarthy said. “Pedestrian-friendly infrastructure improves access and mobility for residents and visitors, reduces energy consumption, and is key to building connected and thriving communities.”

Plans for spending the CDTC grant money was part of the case Schenectady officials made to the state ahead of the city receiving a $10 million Downtown Revitalization Initiative grant in 2019. The DRI, once projects are selected, could increase pedestrian activity between downtown, Little Italy on lower Jay Street, and the Erie Boulevard corridor.

Jim Salengo, president of the Downtown Schenectady Improvement District, said that with more people living downtown and business activity, the intersections being improved are ones that connect people living in or parking in downtown with typical destinations like restaurants and retailers.

“I think it’s just great, with everything that’s going on, the city has placed a priority on walkability and accessibility,” Salengo said.

City Engineer Christopher Wallins said the goal of the project — part of a state initiative — is to address pedestrian safety issues and minimize crash potential through systematic low-cost measures. The grant was awarded in 2018, and proposed improvements have been going through preliminary design.

“We are currently at the end of the preliminary design phase and will be taking any comments we receive incorporating what we can and moving into detailed design in February,” he said. “Construction is anticipated to begin in the summer.”

The virtual public information session will be held Tuesday, January 19 at 5:30 p.m. It will be available as a Zoom meeting and on YouTube, or by phone at 1-646-518-9805 or 1-267-831-0333.

People who cannot attend the virtual public information session may contact City Engineer Wallin, at (518) 382-5082, or [email protected].

Categories: News, Schenectady County

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