Improvements are on tap for a dangerous intersection along the Mohawk-Hudson Bike-Hike Trail in lower Rotterdam Junction.
County officials were awarded a $118,000 federal transportation improvement grant to fund the enhancements where the trail crosses Route 5S. The $148,000 project will rely on a 20 percent match from the county, but additional state aid could bring this contribution down to $7,400.
Design work is expected to begin later this year, with construction scheduled for next year. County legislators are expected to review their portion of the cost during their committee meeting this week.
The project’s aim is to enhance the trail by improving safety at the intersection. The crossing is situated at a bend in the roadway and in an area where the line of sight isn’t very good for either motorists or cyclists using the trail.
“The idea is to improve safety and improve the crossing,” said Ray Gillen, the county’s commissioner of economic development and planning.
The crossing has been an issue for years because of some of the accidents that have occurred there, including a fatality. Al Fairbanks, an avid 73-year-old cyclist, was struck and killed by a car as he crossed the intersection in November 2006.
Though clearly marked, the crossing’s location coupled with the speed at which vehicles travel on Route 5S make it a dangerous intersection. A study funded by the Capital District Transportation Committee recommended narrowing the curb cut of Old Crawford Road at the Route 5S intersection by the trail crossing and moving it west to improve the line of sight. Also recommended were traffic calming devices, such as weave-pattern markings on the roadway on both approaches to the trail.
Gillen was unsure what the improvements will entail. He said enhancements may include added signage or a crosswalk similar to the thermoplastic one put down near Proctors in Schenectady.
The canalway trail system is about 80 percent complete, with gaps remaining between Amsterdam and Rotterdam Junction, and in Oneida, Herkimer and Erie counties.
The state acquired rights-of-way along the abandoned CSX Transportation and New York Central railroad tracks between Rotterdam Junction and Amsterdam, but is still awaiting funds to construct a tunnel under railroad tracks owned by Guilford Rail System in Rotterdam Junction, a project that will cost millions of dollars.
“That’s the last big piece of the puzzle,” Gillen said.