Ballston Spa

Ballston Spa looks to improve conditions for pedestrians, cyclists

The lack of sidewalks on Hyde Boulevard is seen near their soccer fields in Ballston Spa on Nov. 11, 2021.

The lack of sidewalks on Hyde Boulevard is seen near their soccer fields in Ballston Spa on Nov. 11, 2021.

BALLSTON SPA — The Village of Friends contains roadways and sidewalks that are considered unfriendly to pedestrians and bicyclists.

That’s according to feedback from a draft master plan that aims to remedy those concerns.

The village recently unveiled a draft pedestrian and bicycle master plan for which it will hold a virtual public meeting at 7 p.m. on Nov. 18 on Zoom.

The plan identifies missing links in the pedestrian network, potentially unsafe crossings, and priority connections between key village locations, including the Zim Smith Trail.

Nearly 160 comments received by a consultant through September asked the village to make improvements to sidewalks while noting missing sidewalk connections. They also encouraged connections to the Zim Smith Trail, traffic calming measures and improvements to bus shelters.

A major focus of study concerned intersections, said Village Trustee Liz Kormos, the board’s liaison to the study.

The draft plan includes an interactive map on the project website where people can identify a location and comment on what they would like to see or spell out what the problem is.

Pedestrians on Hyde Boulevard walk along and find that the sidewalk suddenly ends, Kormos said.

At one critical area of the boulevard, by Eastern Avenue, trees are so close to the road it’s dangerous to walk, the trustee said.

Also, there’s no sidewalk on Malta Avenue near a park and pool.

Nor does the village have bike paths and lanes.

Bicycling is OK on some of its less-traveled streets, but other roads have a fair amount of traffic on which only seasoned cyclists are comfortable riding, Kormos said.

And while the village is close to the end of the Zim Smith Trail, there’s no obvious link between the end of the trail and the village except for a small sign at the end of Oak Street, she said.

Kormos noted that the Saratoga County Trails Initiative names Ballston Spa a heritage hub, or a point on the trail that it recommends people visit.

“That’s what we want to do, is make it easy for folks to come into our village and get to the downtown and visit our shops and our restaurants,” she said.

The plan, made possible by an approximately $90,000 grant from the Capital District Transportation Committee, is about a year in the works.

Most of the funds, about $60,000, were spent on two consultants — transportation engineering firm VHB, and Planning4Places, which conducted most of the public outreach and gathered input.

The remainder of the money was spent on in-kind work, and work by CDTC staff.

The consultants noted that the village has a diverse population of pedestrians — including low-income individuals, seniors, homeless veterans, and disabled adults, many of whom don’t drive.

The plan aims to enhance the Village Central Business District, surrounding area, and the Route 50 corridor by promoting economic development, improving safety, and creating a connected and integrated multi-modal transportation network for users of all ages and abilities.

Recommendations provide direction on priority locations and design treatments — striping, signage, repaving, and reconstruction projects.

It also describes potential projects and funding opportunities from state and federal resources to implement recommended design, engineering and construction work.

Kormos said the village has already applied for grants that would encompass portions of the plan, and she said it is hoped that the federal transportation bill that was recently passed into law would cure some of the concerns outlined in the plan.

The plan also recommends creating an American with Disabilities Act Transition Plan to address pedestrian connectivity concerns and the creation of a village schedule for installation of curb ramps, detectable warning surfaces, sidewalk installation or replacement and accessible pedestrian pushbuttons where needed.

Kormos said the plan also gave great attention to providing safe routes for children to walk and bike to school. The village’s Malta Elementary School, for instance, has a sizable proportion of students who walk.

Consideration should also be given to the children who walk and bike to the village soccer field, the community center for after-school programming, the pool and the park, Kormos said.

State Sen. James Tedisco, R-Glenville, and state Assemblywoman Mary Beth Walsh, R-Ballston, wrote letters of support for the CDTC grant and for subsequent grants for which the village applied.

Contact reporter Brian Lee at [email protected] or 518-419-9766.

Categories: News, Saratoga County


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