Bethlehem Town Hall. Spotlight file photo
BETHLEHEM — The Delaware Avenue Complete Streets Feasibility Study Draft Report is now available for review and public comment.
The report can be found on the study website at https://delawareavecompletestreets.com/documents/draft-report/. Public comments should be submitted to DelawareAveStudy@cmellp.com by Friday, Dec. 1. The draft report is expected to be presented to the Town Board during its Wednesday, Dec. 13 meeting, when its members will consider adopting the study and identify the next steps in the process.
The study, sponsored by the Town of Bethlehem and the Capital District Transportation Committee, evaluates existing conditions along Delaware Avenue, from Elsmere Avenue to the Albany city line, from a multi-modal perspective aimed at balancing the needs of all roadway users, including pedestrians, bicyclists and public transit users, as well as drivers.
New York State, which owns the road, has a Complete Streets Law the purpose of which is to “Enable safe access to public roads for all users by utilizing complete street design principles”. The law applies to projects that are undertaken by NYSDOT, or to local projects that receive both federal and state funding and are subject to NYSDOT oversight. (See: https://www.dot.ny.gov/programs/completestreets).
As stated in the law, Complete Streets have been found to contribute to a “cleaner, greener transportation system” and “more citizens will achieve the health benefits associated with active forms of transportation while traffic congestion and auto related air pollution will be reduced.”
A 2015 Smart Growth America study of completed projects titled, Safer Streets, Stronger Economies, (https://smartgrowthamerica.org/resources/evaluating-complete-streets-projects-a-guide-for-practitioners/) found that “Complete Streets projects tended to improve safety for everyone, increased biking and walking, and showed a mix of increases and decreases in automobile traffic, depending in part on the project goal.”
“I’m excited about this study and a road diet’s potential for traffic calming, improved safety, quality of life, and preservation of our ‘small town’ main street,” said Town Supervisor John Clarkson. “As the construction winds down on Delaware Avenue and people start seeing the improvements, I think it’s a good time to turn our attention to the Elsmere to Albany section of Delaware, where traffic calming and streetscape improvements can also help out.
“Feedback has been pretty positive overall,” he said, “as it has been for other traffic calming and safety initiatives: new speed reminder signs; sidewalks; crosswalks; and reduced speed limits on Feura Bush Road, Hudson Avenue and Wemple Road.”
Those opposed to the proposed changes spoke during the Oct. 11 Town Board meeting, voicing concerns about inevitable traffic delays and suggested that the improved safety benefit has been overstated, while traffic impact studies have been understated.
The Town Board is expected to consider the matter during its meeting on Wednesday, Dec. 13, at 6 p.m. at Bethlehem Town Hall in Delmar.