By Indiana Nash
ALPLAUS — Alplaus Avenue will be closed until November 30 due to construction work on the Alplaus Avenue Bridge, which goes over Alplaus Kill.
The bridge has been closed since July 5, essentially splitting the hamlet in half.
Motorists have been taking Maple Avenue to Glenridge Road to Balltown Road or Riverview Road to Balltown Road to Glenridge Road to Maple Avenue.
But the bridge cuts off one of the busier routes connecting Saratoga and Schenectady.
10 to 15 minutes have been added to some resident’s morning commutes.
“It’s definitely an inconvenience,” said Alplaus resident Dan Silecchia. On his drive into Schenectady, the detours add around 10 minutes to his trip – and that’s not during rush hour.
The delays are due to the rehabilitation of the Alplaus Avenue bridge, which was built in 1970. It runs over Alplaus Kill, a tributary of the Mohawk River. The rehabilitated bridge will have ornamental lights and architecture that matches Alplaus’ architecture. An additional sidewalk will be also be added in the last few weeks of construction, making the bridge wheelchair accessible. The total cost of the project is $310,102.
Wynn Construction Services, the contractor for the project, originally expected to have construction completed by the first week in November.
Due to scheduling conflicts and weather conditions, they’ve had to push back the completion date to November 30.
According to Paul Sheldon, Schenectady County’s Director of Engineering, concrete still needs to be poured and the second sidewalk needs to be added. But now that the weather has gotten colder, it will take longer for the concrete to cure.
While the closure has not yet caused any major issues for emergency crews, the Alplaus Fire Department said that the closure remains a concern due to the train tracks on Alplaus Avenue.
When a train crosses, it cuts off emergency crew access to that section of Alplaus. According to Fire Chief Andy Coppola, there was one incident in August when the trains stopped in Alplaus to switch engineers. He called the railroad company and told them of the danger it posed to the hamlet and since then there hasn’t been a delay in the trains running through Alplaus.
“ … it is a difficulty and an inconvenience for sure, but the Alplaus Fire Department and the Fire Chief made plans for the closure prior to the closing for the firematic protection of the residents. The Air National Guard Fire/Rescue and Schenectady County Airport Fire/Rescue Departments are on standby to assist if we have any issues on the west side of Alplaus,” said Fire Commissioner Andy Gilpin, speaking about how the closure has impacted Alplaus.
While Schenectady County is in charge of the project, Glenville’s town supervisor, Chris Koetzle has been one of the project’s most vocal advocates.
Koetzle said that the sidewalks and the beautification will help to bring Alplaus together and it will help make it easier for pedestrians to go across the hamlet.
However, Koetzle said he’s also a bit disappointed that the project won’t be completed until the end of November.
“It’s a little frustrating for the residents, especially on Maple Avenue,” Koetzle said.
Despite the inconvenience, some residents say that they’re enjoying the unexpected calm, brought on by the redirecting of commuter traffic.
“The hamlet has been pleasantly quiet during construction because Alplaus Avenue is a popular cut-through for many commuters. Many of us will miss the lack of traffic when the bridge reopens,” said resident Michael McHale. The downside to having the detours is the additional traffic on Maple Avenue and Balltown Road, which has created delays during rush hours, according to residents.
“All in all I think we will be happy when Alplaus is re-unified – we might even have a little celebration,” McHale said.