DOT begins $5.6 million Route 5 improvement project

Trees are being removed along Route 5 for construction to begin to widen the road in Amsterdam on Friday.

Trees are being removed along Route 5 for construction to begin to widen the road in Amsterdam on Friday.

AMSTERDAM — Construction of the $5.6 million Route 5 corridor improvement project by the state Department of Transportation is officially underway.

The project has been designed to streamline travel along Route 5 while improving safety and accessibility for motorists, pedestrians and bicyclists. The work will complement components of the city’s $10 million Downtown Revitalization Initiative state grant projects.

“This corridor is the gateway to downtown Amsterdam,” DOT Commissioner Marie Therese Dominguez said in a prepared statement. “We know that investing in transportation helps drive economic development in communities across the state and DOT’s investment in Amsterdam will benefit residents and visitors as they experience and enjoy all the Mohawk Valley has to offer.”

The beginning of construction was announced this week in a press release. The largest components of the project will involve the installation of a roundabout to replace the signaled intersection of Route 5, Division Street and downtown Market Street that has been flagged by DOT as having “crash rates higher than the statewide average” and conversion of the one-way westbound segment between Liberty Street and Schuyler Street to two-way bi-directional travel.

The majority of project construction will take place next year for anticipated completion by the end of November 2022, according to James Piccola, regional DOT spokesman.

Initial work this fall involves tree removal to make way for street widening and sidewalk extensions, the relocation of some gas and electric services and the installation of a temporary signal at the Route 5 intersection with Market Street.

Minimal impacts to traffic are expected during work this fall, with the possibility of alternating lane closures controlled by flaggers at times. Additional traffic control measures are expected throughout next year with travel advisories to be issued as needed, according to Piccola.

The project will increase the width of travel lanes all across Route 5 between Schuyler Street and Pearl Street to accommodate shared bicycle and vehicular traffic. This will be accomplished through the reduction in westbound lanes from two to one, which also will allow for the installation of new turning lanes at some intersections.

Portions of Route 5 additionally will be reconstructed to accommodate the wider roads and new traffic patterns. The project will also reconfigure the intersection of Route 5 and Forbes Street to create a T-junction and allow for the bi-directional flow of traffic on the currently one-way side street. That will enable nearby Schuyler Street to be converted into a dead-end as it becomes redundant.

Those elements of the DOT project will support plans by the city to eventually shut down the Route 5 eastbound spur that carries vehicles around the outer edges of Amsterdam before connecting to East Main Street. That will lead to the elimination of the four-way intersection of East Main Street, the Route 5 eastbound spur and Schuyler Street.

Shutting down the Route 5 eastbound spur is expected to have economic benefits by rerouting traffic that would typically bypass the city into downtown at a slower rate of speed to allow motorists to take in the amenities. The closure will also free up the land carrying the roadway for eventual reuse, including for the planned construction of a recreation center the city will partially fund through the DRI award.

Although he acknowledged construction will create temporary delays in the project area, Mayor Michael Cinquanti said the benefits of the completed DOT work on Route 5 for the city will make the inconveniences “well worth it.”

“This is an important project for the future of Amsterdam,” Cinquanti stated. “When completed, it will provide a new more efficient primary east-west pathway through the business district of our city, make the entire area more pedestrian friendly and at the same time create the building space necessary to complete the new downtown recreation center and a whole new area for future development between the Riverfront Center and [the] railroad tracks.”

The overall DOT project on Route 5 is expected to reduce traffic delays and emissions while improving travel for all modes of transportation with sidewalks throughout the corridor to additionally be extended and enhanced for compliance with the Americans With Disabilities Act.

“Smart, sustainable transportation investments like these are an indispensable part of any successful community revitalization effort,” Secretary of State Rossana Rosado said in a prepared statement. “These improvements will make the community more walkable and bike-able and enable transformative projects funded through the [DRI].”

Reach Ashley Onyon at [email protected] or @AshleyOnyon on Twitter.

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