Transportation officials have proposed $519 million in regional projects they would like funded if a federal economic stimulus package goes through Congress.
A plan with 97 projects that could quickly be ready for bidding was approved Wednesday by the Capital District Transportation Committee’s planning committee. It emphasizes projects that could be ready within 90 or 180 days.
Supporters say the federal stimulus package, which may total $825 billion, needs to be used to create new jobs quickly, so using it to fund ready-to-go construction plans is a priority. Congressional leaders hope to pass it within a month.
“The region intends to position itself to take as early advantage as possible of the funds to be made available,” stated a memo prepared for the committee by state Department of Transportation planning staff.
Plans that regional transportation officials think could be ready within 90 days include three new projects in Halfmoon or Clifton Park.
Also ready to go that quickly would be $28 million in scheduled road or bridge maintenance projects being planned by the state Department of Transportation; projects that could be accelerated to get the funding.
The Batchellerville Bridge in Edinburg is also on the list should the state decide to advertise for new bids. The current bids on that bridge replacement are still under review but at $64 million, they were $25 million above estimate.
As the regional transportation agency, the Capital District Transportation Committee’s approval is essential to getting federal transportation money for any projects in the four-county region. It maintains a continuously updated five-year funding plan, which would be adjusted to reflect new stimulus package money.
The just-approved list is now released for a 30-day public comment period. It would become final if adopted by the CDTC’s policy committee on March 5.
While the regional “wish list” totals $519 million, Saratoga County planner Michael Valentine, a member of the planning committee, said the stimulus will probably only provide $100 million to DOT Region 1, which includes the Capital Region.
“That’s the thing, when you look at all these projects, there’s only $100 million,” Valentine said.
Some of the projects were already on the region’s five-year transportation improvement plan while others are new.
New projects said to be ready within 90 days include building a sidewalk between Mechanicville and Mechanicville High School, estimated at $250,000, and a pedestrian signal light at Route 146 and Vosburgh Road in Halfmoon, estimated at $50,000.
Those projects have already been designed and gone through environmental reviews, even though they weren’t previously on a regional priority list.
“They’re both good projects that are relatively simple to get going,” said Halfmoon town Planning Board Chairman Stephen Watts.
Another new project, estimated to cost $1.5 million, is for safety improvements at the Route 146-Clifton Country Road intersection, in the heart of Clifton Park’s busy commercial corridor next to Northway Exit 9.
The money would be used for drainage, median and landscaping improvements, and to make the intersection safer for pedestrians. “It’s a major intersection in town and we think it would be a great candidate for the parameters of this program,” said town Supervisor Philip C. Barrett.
It is expected the federal government will pay all costs of stimulus projects without a local cost-share. Usually federal projects require a 20 percent cost-share from a local source.
However, local stimulus projects like the ones in Halfmoon and Clifton Park would need to be paid for up-front by local governments, which would then be reimbursed the full cost, Valentine said. “The thing is, they’re going to have to have the money,” he said.
Other projects are already on CDTC’s five-year plan but can ready for bidding within 90 days. They include a $9.8 million reconstruction of Delaware Avenue in Albany; relocation of Maxwell Road in Colonie for about $5.6 million; and building the second section of the Zim Smith recreation trail in the Ballston Spa area for an estimated $1 million.
There’s a separate category of projects that could be ready to bid within 180 days.
They include $9 million for a new service road in the village of Colonie and extending Petra Lane to Karner Road in Colonie for an estimated $8.3 million.
In Schenectady County, proposals ready for bid within 180 days include work on the Western Gateway bridge between Schenectady and Scotia to make it more pedestrian- and bicycle-friendly, and new sidewalks in the Scotia-Glenville area. Another plan on the 180-day list is a state intersection and paving project on Route 146 in Clifton Park for 2.5 miles between Riverview Road and Route 146A, estimated to cost $6.5 million.
The county has no projects on the 90-day list.
DOT Region 2, which includes Fulton and Montgomery counties, has proposed a stimulus priority list totaling $10 million, including work on Route 5S between Amsterdam and Schenectady County; Route 30 south of Amsterdam; and Route 30A from the Schoharie County line north all the way to Gloversville.
Meanwhile, in Washington, state Transportation Commissioner Astrid C. Glynn on Thursday told the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee that any stimulus money would quickly be put to good use in New York.
She said Gov. David Paterson has developed a list of $1.8 billion in “ready to go” state transportation construction projects — a total that doesn’t include local government proposals.
Glynn said growing need and rising costs have created a backlog of road and bridge projects that are ready but without funding.
“The Economic Recovery Program can go a long way towards making that backlog of promises into real projects that will bring jobs today and support jobs in the future,” she testified.
The list of stimulus projects being proposed in Albany, Saratoga, Schenectady and Rensselaer counties is available at www.cdtcmpo.org, under the Planning Committee heading.