SCHENECTADY — The days of worrying about getting whacked by a car hurtling down a bufferless stretch of Craig Street may be coming to an end.
The city has released plans for improvements designed to improve pedestrian and bicyclist safety along the corridor, including new sidewalks, more trees, traffic bollards and cosmetic improvements.
Officials rolled out a 47-page draft report on Tuesday containing recommendations for Craig Street, the Craig Street bridge over I-890, Pleasant Valley Park, Main Avenue and the intersection of Crane Street, Chrisler Avenue and Main Avenue.
Major priority projects for the corridor connecting the city's Hamilton Hill and Mont Pleasant neighborhoods include:
- Installation of a two-way cycle track and improved and sidewalks on Craig Street.
- Creation of a pedestrian connection through Pleasant Valley Park for people going between Mont Pleasant Middle School and the Boys & Girls Club and elsewhere.
- Improvements to Crane Street and Main Avenue intersections, as well as Main Avenue and Forest Road.
- Conducting a traffic study to better understand the implications of converting Main Avenue, and possibly Forest Road, into a one-way street.
The city partnered with the Capital District Transportation Committee to hold a series of workshops this summer to solicit public input on potential changes along the corridor, which contains a cluster of schools, youth organizations and a spate of new and upcoming affordable housing complexes.
Key concerns from participants were pedestrian safety, vacant lots and trash and litter.
The report shows motorists “generally” obey the 30 MPH speed limit on Craig Street, but it can often seem faster to pedestrians because of the wideness of the street paired with a lack of buffers such as trees and curbs.
Improvements would contain sidewalk bump-outs at crash-prone intersections, including the Main Avenue-Crane Street-Chrisler Avenue intersection, which accounts for approximately 20 percent of crashes that occurred in the study area, according to the report.
Additionally, there is a pattern of right-angle crashes at the Main Avenue-Howard Street intersection, which the report said may be attributed to on-street parking and limited sight distance.
Forty-five percent of crashes along Main Avenue were of an overtaking/sideswipe type, likely owing to it being a narrower street containing on-street parking.
City Director of Development Kristin Diotte said all of the intersection improvements will move forward, but the city hasn’t made a decision yet on converting the streets to one-way:
"We want to keep that as an option on the table,” Diotte said. "That's going to require traffic studies and more in-depth analysis.”
Residents got a firsthand look at the concepts Tuesday evening at an event at the Electric City Barn.
Main Avenue resident Lillian Walsh said she didn’t support the conversion of Craig Avenue to a one-way, but embraced the concept of safer intersections.
“If you don’t stand up for your own community, no one else will,” Walsh said.
The City Council will be asked to adopt the plan, and officials will begin to pin down funding sources.
The recommended projects have a combined $7.3 million price tag, with $4.3 million allocated toward creating separate bicycle and pedestrian paths on Craig Street, narrowing street lanes and creating a parking lane.
“Potentially, you could look to do some elements in 2021 or 2022,” said Mary Moore Wallinger, a planner working on the project.
Officials hope the improvements will spur additional development in the neighborhood, including new uses for vacant lots, many of which housed buildings demolished over the summer.
“The main idea is it will serve as a catalyst for positive development,” Diotte said.
Public feedback also revealed residents want more public art, green space, youth activities and better access to fresh food.
Copies of the draft report are available at the Mont Pleasant Library, the Phyllis Bornt Library and at City Hall.
The draft report is also available at craig-main-connection.com.