$13.1M for transportation projects, including Niskayuna roundabout

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Stephen Williams

Gazette Reporter

Millions of dollars for construction of off-road trails, new roundabouts and a planned regional bike-share program will be coming to the Capital Region, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced Wednesday.

There was $2 million awarded to support the bike-share program that the Capital District Transportation Authority will be launching this summer — and also more than $1.5 million for a roundabout to be built at the busy intersection of River and Rosendale roads in Niskayuna.

There, traffic backs up on River Road in the evenings because it handles thousands of workers at General Electric Global Research and the Knolls Atomic Power Laboratory. Many want to make a left turn toward Colonie, at the same time as a significant amount of traffic is coming west on Rosendale and turning onto River. There’s a stop sign on River Road, but no traffic controls on Rosendale.

Both are Schenectady County-owned roads. The county applied last year for grant money to design and build a roundabout there, but didn’t learn the application’s fate until Wednesday.

“This is good news,” said Niskayuna Supervisor Joe Landry. “What this will do is, with any traffic circle, you slow traffic down but you keep it moving. It will keep the traffic flowing.”

State Department of Transportation statistics show that more than 18,000 vehicles pass through that intersection each day.

The grant to CDTA guarantees that the bike-share program expected to start around the end of July with 160 bikes will continue and expand in 2018, said Lauren Bailey, coordinator for the bike-share program, which has CDPHP as a corporate sponsor. Next year, she’s hoping CDTA can deploy 300 bikes.

“It’s a program we know has a lot of community support and we’re really pleased the governor has recognize it,” Bailey said.

The CDTA bike-share program is expected to include multiple bike kiosks in Albany, Schenectady, Saratoga Springs and Troy where people will be able to rent bicycles, either as tourists or to make local trips.

CDTA spokeswoman Jaime Watson said the authority applied for the funding last year, but didn’t know it would receive it until Wednesday. “We’re over the moon,” she said.

In Saratoga Springs, a $1.53 million grant is going toward completion of the Greenbelt Downtown Trail Connector. The same project received a $1.3 million state grant from the state’s Regional Economic Development Council program last December.

The 1.66-mile trail will run from Excelsior Avenue into the downtown area. City officials said it will eventually be part of a bicycle trail looping around the entire city.

In Clifton Park, $848,840 will go towards extending the network of trails in town. The funding will go to building more trails in the Crescent Road and Moe Road area, expanding on 13 miles of existing trails in the town.

A new trail will go west along Crescent Road, including Okte Elementary School, and then go north on Moe Road to meet the current Moe Road trail

“The timing is terrific in this instance,” Town Supervisor Phil Barrett said. “It will provide a tremendous connection.”

Most of the $112.2 million being awarded statewide — $13.1 million in the Capital Region — is coming from the Federal Highway Administration, as part of the long-term transportation bill Congress approved in 2016.

“This funding is critical to enhancing our infrastructure and paving the way for both pedestrian and bicycle travel,” Cuomo said in a statement.

Cuomo has been calling for increased investment in off-road bike and pedestrian facilities across the state.

With the governor pushing for it, the state budget included $200 million in funding for construction of a 750-mile bike trail that would run across the state, both north-south and east-west over the next several years.