$2.6M sidewalks for Western Avenue

— Map provided by the New York State Department of Transportation

Making Western walkable: The town of Guilderland and the state’s Department of Transportation are working together on a $2.6 million project that will bring sidewalks to Western Avenue, from Route 155 to the city line. The project is currently being designed, and construction is slated to begin in the spring of 2014, and end in the spring of 2015. The map was produced for a meeting that was already held.

GUILDERLAND — The town’s grant writer is happy to see a project 10 years in the making finally coming to fruition. Beginning in the spring, said Donald Csaposs, sidewalks will be installed along Western Avenue from Route 155 to the Albany city line.

The $2.6 million project is a collaboration of the town of Guilderland, the New York State Department of Transportation, and the Capital District Transportation Committee.

“It’s one of those great things where you get several different groups working together,” Csaposs said.

“It was sort of fortunate that we had like-minded goals,” said Bryan Viggiani, a spokesman for the DOT.

Csaposs said the town received two grant approvals seven years ago, after completing a corridor study, through the CDTC, to build sidewalks in McKownville and Westmere. The combined grants totaled $1.1 million.

The town had not gone forward with the project yet, because it needed more funding, and the economy had taken a turn for the worse.

When the town began considering budgeting for the sidewalks, over the past two years, it became aware that the DOT had funding through a stimulus plan that was allocated for making intersections compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

“We have an ADA transition plan, and the goal is to identify places where ADA deficiencies exist, and where they need to be addressed,” said Viggiani. “Western Avenue is one of the top priorities.”

Bringing the intersections into compliance includes adding sidewalk ramps, upgrading pedestrian signal systems, and replacing or adding curbs.

“They were actually going to make those upgrades at some intersections where there were no sidewalks on either side,” said Csaposs. “We were going to do one project, they were going to do another, and they were similar.”

Csaposs said the town approached the DOT and asked if there might be a way to combine the two projects into one.

“After a lot of meetings and discussion, we eventually came to the very logical conclusion that we would have a better project if we combined forces,” he said.

“We were able to pool some funds,” said Viggiani.

The project, which is currently being designed, will be completed in two phases. The first phase, slated to begin in the spring of 2014, will concentrate on the north side of Western Avenue. The second phase, expected to begin in the fall of 2014, will focus on the south side of Western Avenue, and is anticipated to be complete by the spring of 2015.

One area of Western Avenue, where it meets the Northway, will not have full sidewalks installed, because it is complicated, and would require more funding than is currently available, said Viggiani.

Once the sidewalks are complete, the town of Guilderland will be responsible for the maintenance of them.

“The state is very encouraging of multi-modal transportation, and this is just another way we can contribute to that,” Viggiani said.

“This represents an unprecedented level of cooperation between and among the town, the CDTC, and DOT, all actually trying to work together to create a better project in the end,” Csaposs concluded.

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