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$2.9 million awarded for local bike trail connections

$2.9 million awarded for local bike trail connections

Sidewalks and bike lanes for Rotterdam Junction; new path in Scotia
$2.9 million awarded for local bike trail connections
Rotterdam Junction will benefit from planned bike trail improvements.
Photographer: Gazette file photo

SCHENECTADY COUNTY -- The state has awarded $2.9 million in funding for projects in Rotterdam Junction and Scotia that will create new bicycle/pedestrian links to the Mohawk-Hudson Recreation Trail.

There was a $2.2 million award for work to improve pedestrian and bike safety along state Route 5S in Rotterdam Junction, while $713,000 was awarded for construction of a new path along Washington Avenue in the village of Scotia, according to Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo's office.

The Rotterdam and Scotia projects were included in $27 million in funding announced statewide, using federal transportation money administered by the state.

In Rotterdam Junction, the proposed project will actually cost an estimated $2.7 million, with the state grant paying $2.2 million and the town contributing a little over $500,000, based on cost estimates.It was discussed at a public meeting last summer.

Town officials see the work as helping the hamlet capitalize on development of the Empire State Trail, a statewide bike trail network. Part of that $200 million trail includes closing long-standing gaps in the Mohawk-Hudson Trail in the Rotterdam Junction area.

Rotterdam Town Supervisor Steven A. Tommasone said the project will help the hamlet take advantage of the state's focus on the Empire State Trail and increasing bike tourism.

"It will mean a lot to the quality of life there," Tommasone said. "It's about the bike trail and about making sure people can safety walk the streets, and about bringing new opportunities to the Junction."

The work will be done along about a half-mile of state Route 5S, between Bridge Street and Parkis Street. Sidewalks there are crumbling, and will include measures to slow traffic down on state Route 5S, which is the hamlet's main street. With the grant awarded, Tommasone said detailed design can start and construction will probably happen in 2020-2021.

The project will add to or replace existing sidewalks along the north side of the highway and create high-visibility crossings with handicapped-access ramps and warning signals at intersections, including where bicyclists would cross if going onto the state trail. New directional signage would also be installed.

Travel lanes on Route 5S would be reduced from 12 feet to 11 feet in an effort to slow traffic and make more room for bicycles. Solar-powered radar speed signs would also be installed in the area. Pedestrian and handicapped-access improvements would also extend down Iroquois Street, south off of Route 5S, which will be the connection to the Empire State Trail.

In Scotia, the $713,000 state grant will go toward a $927,000 project that would build a multi-use path, sidewalks and crosswalks along Washington Avenue, from Sunnyside Lane past a small park on Collins Lake to the end of Schonowe Avenue. There, bikers or pedestrians could shift to a one-mile, off-road trail leading to Freemans Bridge Road, and use that to reach the Hudson-Mohawk trail.

Regional transportation planners recently agreed to add a bike lane to the Freemans Bridge when it is rehabilitated, a project currently scheduled for 2020. That will make it easier for bike-riders to cross the river and reach the Schenectady trail system.

But Glenville Town Supervisor Chris Koetzle said that trail is in poor condition, and state grant money has been denied when the town has applied for funding to repair it. One issue may be the trail's ownership is cloudy; Koetzle said the town doesn't own it, though it has sought about $300,000 in funding to repair and repave it.

"It's great, we're very happy Scotia got the money, but it's mind-boggling that the one link on either side of where they're improving has not been funded, and that's after four requests," Koetzle said.

Also in Cuomo's funding announcement:

-- $1.8 million toward improvements to the geometry of the Rosendale Road-Old River Road intersection in Niskayuna.

-- $5 million toward construction of the Albany Skyway, a plan to turn a little-used interstate highway ramp in downtown Albany into a elevated park that would offer views of the Hudson River and downtown Albany.

Reach Gazette reporter Stephen Williams at 518-395-3086, [email protected] or@gazettesteve on Twitter.

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