People who commute from Saratoga County into Schenectady County each day know it’s past time to do something about the Rexford Bridge. Not only is the span over the Mohawk River deteriorating, the roads leading up to both the north and south entrances are too small to handle rush hour.
So the state Department of Transportation’s $25 million plan to build a new bridge just a few feet west of its current location, while adding a roundabout at the southern entrance and a wider intersection a quarter-mile to the north, seems like a big improvement.
Will it eliminate the rush-hour backups that can add 15 minutes or more to a daily commute? Probably not. But it should ease them considerably. And given that alternatives are either physically impossible or prohibitively expensive, it’s probably the best that can be hoped for.
There’s obviously little point in patching up the existing bridge any more than necessary, given its age and condition. And a second bridge downriver, as one person at Thursday night’s public hearing suggested, would cost too much. (It’s going to be hard enough to pry the $25 million needed for DOT’s plan away from the state.)
A roundabout at the southern end should keep traffi c flowing more smoothly than the existing traffic light, though northbound traffi c coming down the Balltown Road hill won’t have the luxury of hitting the bridge at 45 mph anymore. Widening the highway and adding turn lanes at the Riverview Road intersection — where there’s not enough room for a roundabout — should ease bottlenecks that start at that end of the bridge. A third traffi c lane on the bridge should help augment traffi c fl ow at rush hour. And a protected bike/hike lane should encourage alternatives to cars.
Kudos to DOT for involving the public in the preliminaries. It must follow through when the bridge design is complete but not yet set in stone, to avoid problems like the one that occurred with the Western Gateway Bridge in Scotia.