The intersection of Elsmere and Delaware avenues is where Delaware Avenue morphs from a two-lane to a four-lane road, which the town sees as a common reason drivers start to speed. The Road Diet project aims to partially remedy that. Diego Cagara / Spotlight News
BETHLEHEM — The town’s Planning Division director Robert Leslie confirmed the Delaware Avenue Road Diet project is still happening and should be finished by 2022.
The project, known officially as the Delaware Avenue Complete Streets and Road Diet Project, concerns the stretch of Delaware Avenue from right before its intersection with Elsmere Avenue to the Normans Kill Bridge. It would convert the existing four-lane road to a road diet — two opposing traffic lanes and a middle two-way left-turn lane.
Leslie said the project was the result of the Delaware Avenue Complete Streets Feasibility Study, released back in December 2017, which outlined goals to improve pedestrian safety, confront speeding issues, and create a “community main street.”
He added that the project would not affect the current curb line and pavement amount, but the lane striping will change. There is a plan to install a “gateway treatment from the city of Albany direction,” he said, which he explained is more of a beautification design for Delaware Avenue. “We’ll have landscaping and it would provide a sense of place and feeling of entering a new location. It would also encourage drivers to drive slower.”
Leslie confirmed that the state Department of Transportation has not yet decided to pave Delaware Avenue but the town will soon be hiring an engineering consultant in early 2020, which will include a formal hiring process.
“The engineering consultant will assist us in design plans and have public meetings where we speak to the public and inform them more about the project, and work through any issues they bring up during those discussions,” he said. “We’re also hoping for all this to happen in 2020. We’ll listen to comments from the public and look to address them in the design of the project.”
One such concern Leslie addressed was how the impending construction would affect residents and businesses along the impacted stretch of Delaware Avenue. Such locations of interest include Elsmere Elementary School and Delaware Plaza. He recognized that “any road construction has effects and there will be traffic plans in place to maintain access to businesses and residents. Driveway access will be maintained.”
He added that construction is estimated to begin in 2021 and end by early 2022.
The project’s total cost is around $5.2 million. Leslie said the town was awarded $2.9 million by the state DOT in April through its Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP) and Congestion Mitigation Air Quality Improvement Program (CMAQ). He added that the state DOT will give another $1.6 million for pavement reservicing while the town will provide the remaining $728,000.
For more information, visit www.townofbethlehem.org/830/Delaware-Avenue-Complete-Streets-Feasibi.