SARATOGA SPRINGS — Work is starting on a city project to improve predestrian safety at Union Avenue and Regent Street, along a principal route between downtown and Saratoga Race Course.
City Public Safety Commissioner Peter Martin said preparation work is underway, with construction to start next week and take about three weeks. "Hopefully by the time track season comes it will be all done," he said at Tuesday's City Council meeting.
The work is being done under a $168,000 contract awarded to DelSignore Blacktop Paving of Troy.
The intersection, just a block off Circular Street, is close to Empire State College and a number of apartments, including new condo units built on the site once occupied by the "Pink Palace" Skidmore College dorm. It's also a route walked by some parents taking students to the Lake Avenue Elementary School.
"Union at that intersection with Regent is very wide," Martin said. "It is two lanes of parking, four lanes of traffic and a buffer lane, it is actually seven lanes wide, and it's going to be hopefully much easier to cross."
The work will include installation of twp pedestrian islands in the middle of Union Avenue where people can stop to wait for oncoming traffic. The two existing Union Avenue crosswalks will be realigned, and sidewalks will "bump out" to let pedestrians get farther before having to enter the crosswalk.
Blinking yellow lights will warn motorists that pedestrians may be in the crosswalk, Martin said.
Martin said the project comes from a study the Creighton Manning engineering firm did in 2016 that looked at which intersections around the city were most in need of pedestrian safety improvements.
"We've had some traffic accident history there, and we always take a look at traffic volumes in making these decisions," Martin said.
At the council meeting, Public Works Commissioner Anthony "Skip" Scirocco said the city also put in a pedestrian median when Saratoga Avenue was reconstructed several years ago, and it improved pedestrian safety.
About 12,000 vehicles per day use Union Avenue, according to the state Department of Transportation. But the number of vehicles on the road is significantly higher during track season, as is the number of pedestrians in the area.
Saratoga Race Course will open for an eight-week, five-day-a-week meet on July 11.
The Department of Public Safety is also planning to make pedestrian safety improvements at Church Street's intersections with Railroad Place and Woodlawn Avenue, but Martin said that work weren't start until after track season ends.
"With those and some other projects and a bike lane on Lake Avenue, hopefully we are going to be a friendlier town for pedestrians and people on bicycles," Martin said.