Photos by Michael Hallisey
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BETHLEHEM—Town Board members unanimously voted to move forward with the roundabout and sidewalk extension project long discussed for the intersection of U.S. Route 9W with Feura Bush and Glenmont roads.
“This is just the first step in the whole process,” said Town Engineer Paul Penman.
Prior to voting on resolutions related to the project, representatives from Creighton Manning, the civil engineering and surveying firm often hired by the town, not only provided some history about it, but also details about what will happen next.
The package of resolutions, approved unanimously:
• Establishes the Town Board as lead agency under the State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA) and approves a negative declaration regarding significant environmental effects
• Authorizes the implementation and funding of design services provided by Creighton Manning
• Provides general approval of the project
• Authorizes Town Supervisor David VanLuven to execute any necessary agreements with the New York state Department of Transportation, and
• Serves as a bond resolution for the full cost of the project, $4.845 million, pursuant to permissive referendum
Officials expect the construction phase to begin in the spring of 2020 and be complete by the following spring. Surveying, design and acquisition of the Right of Way are expected to occur during the spring and summer of 2018 and 2019.
There are multiple design concepts to explore for the implementation of a rotary intersection in that area. During the design phases, both the town and Creighton Manning anticipate holding multiple public information meetings, as well as a public pre-construction meeting. Impacted stakeholders and property owners will also be invited to share their thoughts.
During the construction phase, the town will host a project website and utilize
social media so residents can stay updated on its progress, as well as coordinate with local police, fire and EMS providers to ensure response times aren’t impacted.
Major upcoming tasks include data collection (public surveys, crash information, etc.); environmental reviews; coordination with NYSDOT and the Thruway Authority; identification of right-of-way needs; and the evaluation of pedestrian safety countermeasures. Additionally, according to Creighton Manning, it will be necessary to evaluate a both roundabout and a traffic signal at that intersection.
The project will be 80 percent funded by the state, which will reimburse the town after it takes out a bond for the entire cost. Ultimately, the town will pay just under $1 million.
Penman predicted that at least two of the three expected public information meetings will take place this year. “Two this year, maybe another one next year. And, if we need another one, we can do another public information meeting.
“We have the scope,” he said,” but now we have to put the actual pen to paper.
“How do you have a walkable rotary,” asked Town Supervisor David VanLuven, noting that many he has seen have been “scary” for pedestrian traffic.
Penman responded that roundabout designs have improved and are utilizing more pedestrian-safe features, such as raised walkways and lighting. “That is something that has been stressed from day one,” he said. “That this has to be pedestrian-friendly.” Public conversations and meetings with the board will play a large role in that, he said.
Before the board unanimously voted in favor of the resolutions to move the project forward, member Jim Foster recommended scheduling the public information meetings in such a way that every resident would have the opportunity to attend at least one meeting, regardless of work schedules.