CDTA proposes transit center at Crossgates

GUILDERLAND — The Capital District Transportation Authority presented its proposal for a new transit center at Crossgates Mall at a town board meeting on Tuesday.

The transit center, said Christopher Desany, vice president of planning and infrastructure for CDTA, would be part of a broader project.

The company hopes to install 40 miles of line for bus rapid transit — BRT — over the next five years, and key areas for the project include Washington and Western avenues.

Desany described BRT lines as a “light version of light rail travel.”

The line would be more efficient, said Desany, because there would be 15 stations, rather than 45 stops, the buses would have traffic-light priority, and, in some areas, such as at the mall, there would be a dedicated bus lane. The buses would run every seven to 10 minutes and operate 22 hours per day on weekdays and 23 hours per day on weekends.

The system would benefit commuters who need to go directly from one point to another quickly because they could bypass all the stops made on the typical local route.

The 15 stations would be located in the same places as already existing stops, but the shelters would be upgraded.

Crossgates Mall, according to Desany, is the second-busiest stop in the entire CDTA system, with an average 532,000 passengers boarding each year.

The proposed transit center at the mall would consist of a raised deck with an additional 4,000 to 5,000 square feet of “conditioned” space and direct entry into the mall via the second-floor food court. The deck would be constructed over an existing parking lot.

It would allow passengers to wait in a comfortable environment, out of the elements, and provide electronic screens showing real-time bus schedules, a customer service kiosk, and a ticket-sales booth. 

Desany said installing the transit center would lead to various other roadway improvements, including replacing a traffic signal with a roundabout, adding a new roundabout, pushing the ring road south, and adding a park-and-ride lot.

The improvements, he said, would reduce delays and reduce queuing of traffic, particularly on the southbound ramp to Interstate 87.

CDTA has completed its alternatives analysis, a conceptual design study, and submitted its plan to the Federal Transit Administration for funding.

The next steps include discussing rights-of-way and land swaps with the town, pursuing special-use permits, and completing a site plan review.

The timetable, said Desany, is nine to 12 months to finish the design and submit requests for proposals for construction, with construction to begin in the spring of 2017.

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