SARATOGA SPRINGS — One of the city’s most prominent thoroughfares, Union Avenue, is unsafe and noisy, issues the Complete Streets Advisory Board is expecting will be addressed in a final analysis from consultants JMT.
“Ninety-seven percent of the cars are going over the speed limit,” said Mike King, a member of the Complete Streets Advisory Board. “The highest speed that I observed was 53 mph in a 30 mph.
Compared to similar streets in the state the roadway has a crash rate more than three times the state average.
There is one crossing in the section of Union Avenue between Circular Street and Nelson Avenue, the area which the advisory board and residents discussed at a meeting on Feb.9. King said the advisory board has been tasked with determining how to enhance Union Avenue between Circular Street to East Avenue to ensure safety for pedestrians, bikers and drivers, all while maintaining a pleasant aesthetic for the street that is adjacent to the Saratoga Race Course.
“This is part of a 2016 plan that is being implemented,” King said.
Once the analysis is complete, King said, the advisory board will make a recommendation to the mayor and City Council on whether it should proceed to discussion regarding design and costs.
King said the design of Union Avenue from Nelson Avenue to East Avenue will come after the design of Union Avenue from Circular Street to Nelson Street.
Discussions on how to upgrade the street come as the state prepares to repave and create bike lanes on Union Avenue between East Avenue and Henning Road.
King said the Feb. 9 meeting went well and those thoughts are being blended into the final report which will include existing conditions, what has been observed on the roadway and a traffic study on how the street would perform with various changes, such as going down to three lanes instead of four.
Another one of the changes discussed was the addition of bike lanes.
Bikeatoga has been a strong proponent of adding bike lanes to the road, which is heavily used by bicyclists, but is “simply unsafe to ride,” said Ed Lindner, the advocacy chairman for the group.
He said the group’s goal is to create a bike lane network and having bike lanes on Union Avenue would connect Saratoga Lake to downtown Saratoga Springs.
There is currently a petition on Change.org by resident Charlie Samuels with over 400 signatures to get bike lanes installed on the roadway.
Beyond creating a bike lane network, the petition states that bike lanes would make people of all ages and abilities feel more comfortable riding, support the city’s climate mitigation plans and increase economic activity, among other things.
While one petition is pushing for bike lanes on the street, another by the Historic Union Avenue Neighborhood Association is asking the City Council to not make any decisions until all community members and interested parties have been talked to, such as the New York Racing Association and Empire State College.
“We cannot afford to play high stakes poker with one of our community’s greatest assets,” the petition states. “We, as taxpayers, ask for your support and underscore the need to take our time, as a community, to answer all questions and get this right.”
That petition has over 500 signatures.