It's really nice that Schenectady wants its big intersections to look pretty, with faux brick circles and crosswalks and such.
But maybe city residents would rather drive over a consistently smooth road surface and have the extra beautification money invested in filling potholes or replacing dilapidated sidewalks elsewhere or improving pedestrian safety.
About five years ago, the intersection of Union and Dean streets got a $4 million face-lift that included using something called “thermoplastic” to fuse asphalt and granite curbs and create this red-brick design in the road. It’s spotlighted by a big simulated-brick circle in the middle of the intersection.
It all looked very nice, that is until Schenectady's winters took a whack at it.
Combined with snow, ice, temperature swings, snowplow scrapes and heavy traffic, the material has cracked and flaked away in the past few years, creating an unsightly mess of potholes and patchwork.
Now the city is planning to fix it by again using this thermoplastic, but fusing it to the asphalt so water allegedly can't seep in this time.
The $65,000 cost of repairs will be borne by the Schenectady County Metroplex Development Authority, with city taxpayers picking up any overruns.
Why bother going to all that trouble and expense when a standard asphalt repaving would probably do just fine and last longer?
Just use the new process for the decorative sidewalks, a smaller project for something that doesn’t get as much wear and tear as the road does.
The sidewalks on each corner of the intersection have more than enough brick and benches and potted plants and Victorian lighting to give the area that historic, visual appeal the city is seeking. Aesthetically, it’s the best they can do with a McDonald's anchoring the corner.
Redoing the intersection in much the same way as the old intersection just doesn't seem worth the effort and money for whatever small visual benefits the city might or might not gain from it.