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What you need to know for 01/21/2017

Glenville wants piece of Schenectady casino pie

casinos

Glenville wants piece of Schenectady casino pie

If a casino is built in Schenectady, roads in Glenville won’t be improved at all to handle increased

If a casino is built in Schenectady, roads in Glenville won’t be improved at all to handle increased traffic, according to the official casino proposal.

The proposal from the developers of Rivers Casino at Mohawk Harbor was released by the state Gaming Commission this week. It includes everything from interior design plans to financial information. In the middle of the 1,075 pages is a short traffic “memorandum” from T.R. Johnson Engineering in Latham that calls for widened intersections at Maxon Road Extension and Nott Street as they empty onto Erie Boulevard.

But in Glenville, just over Freemans Bridge, the proposal only calls for retiming a few traffic lights. Glenville town Supervisor Christopher Koetzle said the town needs much more.

“There needs to be significant improvement,” he said, adding that traffic is already too heavy on Freemans Bridge Road — which becomes Erie Boulevard once it crosses the Mohawk River into Schenectady. Town officials have asked the state Department of Transportation to widen the road so it can handle current traffic.

The road is so congested that Lowe’s widened it near its entrance when it built a store on Freemans Bridge Road. If Lowe’s needed more space, Koetzle said, a casino surely needs more.

Not so, according to the traffic report. It predicts most traffic will come from Interstate 890 and the Thruway.

Mayor Gary McCarthy agreed with that prediction and cited it as the reason for not making sizeable improvements to Freemans Bridge Road.

“The flow of traffic is coming in the opposite direction,” he said.

That scenario suggests most drivers will head north on Erie Boulevard from I-890, driving through an area that was just rebuilt at a cost of $14 million. That work went from the I-890 interchange to Union Street.

McCarthy wants to do the same level of work on the next section of Erie Boulevard, from Union Street to Nott Street. But, he said, the entire road has the capacity to handle heavy casino traffic.

Improvements would include repaving and new sidewalks, curbs and lighting to help improve the value of real estate along that stretch, he said.

However, Koetzle thinks traffic will come from the Saratoga area and points north.

“Freemans Bridge Road would be the gateway from the north, from Saratoga, into this project,” he said. “It’s beyond me why they wouldn’t improve it.”

Then he answered his own question: “Money.”

He said railroad tracks that cross Freemans Bridge Road near the city line, are “choking traffic.” He wants the tracks moved or a bridge built.

“And I know that’s expensive,” he said.

He also has big plans for Freemans Bridge Road. It needs to be a four-lane road all the way to Route 50, he said.

And more traffic lights are needed as Route 50 winds through the town’s neighborhoods, he added.

All that would be costly. Just widening the intersections at Nott Street and Maxon Road Extension is estimated to cost $170,000.

The proposal also calls for building a new road within the site, connecting to Maxon Road across Erie Boulevard. That road, dubbed Mohawk Harbor Drive, would cost $175,000, according to the traffic report estimates.

Galesi Group and the casino owners would share in the cost of all of the road improvements, according to the proposal.

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