A Mystery at Schuyler Flatts

While snooping around the new cycle track in Watervliet (see Cycle Track in Watervliet – Update 9-8-20)  and winding back to Broadway/Rt 32, we came across a curious sign at the “dead end” at the southern terminus of Broadway. Clearly, this sign was placed with some intent. The google street view (image dated 2007) DOES NOT show the Erie Canalway Trail (ECT) and the Mohawk-Hudson Bike-Hike Trail (MHBHT) signs. The Village of Menands notes that “The Park includes a walking and jogging trail with access to the Hudson-Mohawk Bike Path.” Maybe there are yet more signs to be found in the park!

The sign attests to continuation of both the Erie Canalway Trail and the Mohawk-Hudson Bike-Hike Trail. Why is it there? What was the plan? Where does it lead?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Mystery Sign

Close Up – Mystery Sign

Option 1 – If south-bound riders on the Empire State Trail/Erie Canalway Trail/Mohawk-Hudson Bike-Hike Trail were unfamiliar with the connection of Broadway in Watervliet to the I-787 underpass leading to the MHBHT south to Albany or had just missed the turn, they could follow the sign into the Schuyler Flatts Cultural Park. The park shows clearly in the photograph. After some considerable confusion, the riders might have headed south on Broadway/Rt 32 searching for more MHBHT trail signage – a futile search indeed. It would be one group of confused cyclists! (If there is any signage for the MHBHT/Corning Riverfront Park on southbound Broadway, it is well hidden.) On the following map, use the dark blue trail and the red making on Broadway.

Schuyler Broadway Route Map

OPTION 2 – South-bound riders who wanted to get to Broadway/Rt 32 would find this sign very welcoming. Following it, they would avoid the traffic and intersections on Rt. 32 in Watervliet and would, instead, have a pleasant ride through the Schuyler Flatts Cultural Park. Following the paved path through the park, riders would exit onto Broadway at Village One Apartments/Schuyler Inn. While there is no active traffic control at this intersection, there is a well-marked pedestrian crossing with blinking caution lights. Riders then could proceed south on Broadway’s wide shoulders either to immediately leave for the “Albany Rural Cemetery Bypass” after 2/10 miles or to continue south on Broadway. (The “Albany Rural Cemetery Bypass” takes one to the bicycle lanes on Van Rensselaer Blvd. and Northern Blvd. and then to those on Clinton Ave.) This, of course, assumes that our riders are familiar with this option – leaving the MHBHT at 4th St. Those not aware of the mystery sign would have vended their way through city streets and could have reached the Schuyler Flatts Cultural Park via  2nd Ave. and entered the park on Schuyler Ln.

OPTION 3 – Really sophisticated riders who were planning on the “Albany Rural Cemetery Bypass” or who merely wanted to visit the park, would have left the MHBHT at 8th St. and then taken an immediate left turn onto 1st Ave or onto the unmarked road just past 1st Ave. to visit the Erie Canal Lower Side Cut Lock Park. Historically minded riders would have left the park on what is now an alley between 1st Ave./2nd Ave., and 3rd Ave. and followed the filled-in prism of the original Erie Canal to Schuyler Ln. and the Flatts. There are a couple uncertain spots on this route, but the perseverant rider will enjoy tracing the canal from the US Army Watervliet Arsenal to Schuyler Flatts Cultural Park and the preserved remnant of the original canal.

Option 4 – Riders who got to 4th St. at the I-787 underpass (leading to the Mohawk-Hudson Bike-Hike Trail south to Albany) could also brave the almost unride-able Schuyler Flatts Trail to the Flatts. They could hop the curb just after the left turn toward the Hudson River and follow the very scenic trail to its end at Schuyler Flatts Cultural Park. Sadly, this trail has been essentially abandoned with poor or misleading signage, broken pavement, and falling fencing. See the dark blue trail in the park and along the trail to 4th St. to follow the “Option 4” route.

Schuyler Flatts Route Map

More on the Schuyler Flatts Cultural ParkSchuyler Flatts Cultural Park – Located on Rt 32 between Menands and Watervliet in the Town of Colonie, this 12-acre park opened in fall 2002 on what was once the farm of the Schuyler family. The Schuyler farm was a staging area for revolutionary war encampments. Prior to this, it was the site of a Mohican summer encampment.

The area has great historical and archeological significance and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The Park includes a walking and jogging trail with access to the Hudson-Mohawk Bike Path. The park itself is a tranquil, wide-open green space for strolling and picnicking. A notable feature is a replica of a Dutch barn, testimony to the extensive (and lasting) presence of the settlers from the Netherlands. Of perhaps of more interest to the Erie Canalway Trail rider is the preserved prism of the original “Clinton’s Ditch” Erie Canal located just along Broadway. Tracing imaginary lines north and south from this point, will bring one to the canal’s former route along the Hudson-Mohawk Animal Shelter and then to “Canal Rd. S.” and Erie Blvd. in Albany. North will take you to the Watervliet alley and the Lower Side Cut Lock (see more in Option 3 above).

The Erie Canal was 363 miles long and included 18 aqueducts (to carry the canal over ravines, streams, and rivers) and 83 locks (with a rise of 568 feet from the Hudson River to Lake Erie). The cross-section or “prism” of the original Erie Canal was 4 feet deep, 40 feet wide at the water surface, and 28 feet at the bottom. It floated boats carrying 30 tons of freight. There was a 10-foot wide towpath along the bank of the canal for the horses (for packet boats) or mules (for cargo barges).

#####

Leave a comment

Filed under Comings and Goings, Erie Canal Trail, Local Bike Rides, Mohawk-Hudson Bike-Hike Trail, Trail Network, Watervliet

Changes to South End Connector – City of Albany

Following substantial completion of the South End Connector, the Albany Bicycle Coalition detected a number of issues needing resolution. We had identified some of these even before design and construction began on the Connector. On 9/17/20, we asked the city to explore how we might get these projects on the city’s “to do” list for 2020-21.

Key members of the Albany Bicycle Coalition have had some considerable experience with the new South End Connector and many years of observation and riding in the S. Pearl St./Connector area. We believe the city should make several modifications to realize the full potential of this new asset. We detail these below. They include maintenance, safety issues, signage/lighting/striping, a new interchange, and traffic control.

Our major concerns are safety issues related to the Broadway/Quay St. and the S. Pearl St.-South End Connector junction. The Broadway/Quay St. issue derives from the original “all cars-all the time” poor design of this interchange. In fact, it was here that a SUV ran down and killed 60-year-old cyclist Jose Perez on August 3, 2006.

One of the major impetuses for the very conception of the South End Connector was the motor vehicle death of a young lad on S. Pearl St.

++++++

Multiuse Path Maintenance – the City of Albany Department of General Services was quite responsive to our recent (September) call for mowing and cleanup of the median/divider on the I-787 access/frontage road portion of the South End Connector. The city needs to ensure that this maintenance be a regular part of DGS’s role in the area. Glass in the cycle track will continue to plague people on bicycles.

Signage, Lighting, and Striping at S. Pearl St.-South End Connector Intersection – There is a need for signage and re-striping of the crosswalks and possibly new lighting at the intersection of S. Pearl Street and the I-787 access/frontage road. This would alert people in cars who are making both left and right turns from S. Pearl onto the access road that bicyclists and pedestrians could be using the crosswalks. These are swooping turns that are, unfortunately, plentiful in the City of Albany. Motor vehicles traveling north on S. Pearl make the turn at excessive speed. It is awkward for bicyclists wanting to continue north on S. Pearl to see cars coming from the south. (That is, those who are not staying on the Connector beyond this intersection). Similarly, people on bicycles heading south on S. Pearl St. but wanting to enter the Connector going north (i.e., a left turn off S. Pearl St.) have difficulty making a safe turn. Pedestrians also have to look awkwardly to their left before stepping into the crosswalk.

Attention to this intersection (as well as Bassett St. and Broadway/Quay St.) is integral to making the Connector a community/local street asset and not merely a recreational, end-to-end experience. It is part of recognizing that the “South End” needs access to current and future bicycle facilities in the City of Albany.

Pedestrian And Cyclist Entrance/Exit at Bassett St. – To encourage safe access to the Connector and to promote it as a community resource, there needs to be an entrance/exit connecting Bassett St. and the South End Connector. The striped area could be modified easily for this purpose with only the addition of some striping (e.g., a green path) and a “no entry for motor vehicles” sign.

Enhanced Motor Vehicle Traffic Control at Broadway/Quay St. – This intersection has been a barrier for people on bicycles and people walking since its original construction. This long-standing problem predates the South End Connector by many years and was the site where a motor vehicle struck and killed cyclist Jose Perez.

Looking east toward the Hudson River, people in cars swoop off Broadway at high speeds to the right/south. When they make this right turn onto Broadway, they come up on the bicycle rider’s blind side. The only traffic control is a yield sign. This sign is ineffective since it is clear to a driver that there to no motor vehicle traffic to which to yield. At an absolute minimum, a stop sign should replace the yield sign. This alteration is a small task that could be done in an hour or two at minimal cost.

What is not so clear is that the South End Connector channels people on bicycles directly to a cross walk which is somewhat hidden from people in cars. While riders are scanning to their left and rear, they also have to be alert to motor vehicles coming north on Broadway to continue on Quay St. or Broadway into the city proper. Here we need more demonstrative traffic control.

++++++

Leave a comment

Filed under Activisim, Equity, safety, South End Bike Link, South End Bikeway Connector

Update on Champlain Canal Trail and the Empire State Trail North from Waterford

Bad News on Champlain Canal Trail – Upper Newtown Rd. – According to 11/9/20 information from the Town of Halfmoon on the Champlain Canal Trail (Empire State Trail) from Upper Newtown Rd. to Mechanicville, a decision was made to stop this project. The engineering consultants who designed this trail, submitted revised figures to Hudson Valley Greenway that increased the construction costs an additional $1.9 million. The increase is due to several factors including materials for construction due to COVID-19, National Grid costs, and to a large portion being in a wetlands area. SO, “Work in Progress” below becomes “on hold.”

A Bump in the Trail

++++++++

Work progresses on the trail and towpath from Upper Newtown Rd. to Mechanicville.

Work in Progress

There is currently no good (that is, off road) bicycle route connecting the Champlain Canal Trail trailhead on Upper Newtown Rd. and Mechanicville. There are three on-road alternative routes:

  • Ride 2.2 miles on the road/shoulder of Rt. 4/Rt. 32 (also NYS Bike Route 9)
  • Climb 2.5 miles up Upper Newtown Rd. and then follow Rt. 146 for 2.7 miles back down to Mechanicville
  • Climb 2.5 miles up Upper Newtown Rd. and then follow Rt. 146 and Pruyn Hill Rd for 2.9 miles to Mechanicville.

For an earlier posts, go here and here.

Arriving in Mechanicville (Photo courtesy Ed)

Construction on the Champlain Canal Trail on from Upper Newtown Rd. Trailhead (Photo courtesy Ed)

Here is the Trail Description in and from Waterford from the May 2019 “Champlain Canalway Trail Action Plan: Waterford is at the junction of the Hudson River, the Champlain Canal, the Mohawk River, and the Erie (NYS Barge) Canal. It is the start of the of both the original and current Champlain Canals. The Champlain Canalway Trail lies along the Old Champlain Canal and is developed fully throughout the Town and Village of Waterford. The trail runs from original Champlain Lock #4 at the southern point of the Town (called “North Side”) just across the dammed-up Mohawk River from Cohoes (where Lock #3 was located) and east of Rt. 32/Saratoga Ave. (Just up the wooden stairs from Lock 4 is the Waterford Historical Museum and Cultural Center. Locks #3 and #4 were not there to raise and lower canal boats but to equalize the water level of the slack pond behind the damned-up Mohawk River with that of the Cohoes and Waterford sections of the canal. Lock #4 currently helps to control water level in the NYS Barge Canal.)

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is cct-7-29-16-comp-a1.jpg

The Mule at the Waterford Harbor Visitor Center

The trail continues north along the Old Champlain Canal for about 1.25 miles to the 4th St. Bridge into the Village and onto South St. It then continues to and through the Barge Canal Lock #2 Park across Broad St./Rt 32. No traffic control here – use caution. From this point, you follow the original Champlain Canal Trail from Broad St. for about 0.35 miles to the Village border just after the Old Champlain Canal Weighlock (remnants) and the overhead railroad bridge.

The Beautiful Trail Approaching the Weighlock

Old Champlain Canal Weighlock

Old Champlain Canal Lock #5 – View 1

Note setbacks for lock gates

Old Champlain Canal Lock #5– View 2

Old Champlain Canal Lock #5– View 3

Note setback for lock gate.

The trail then continues north for about 1.9 miles to the Town’s border with the Town of Halfmoon.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The Champlain Canal Trail at Waterford

You will pass Champlain Canal Lock 5 and then ride on to “Landfill Mountain” by Momentive Performance Materials.

Enjoy the Methane!

Momentive Performance Materials

Then, following a narrow paved road onto Bells Ln. (that changes into School House Ln.), you’ll enter Halfmoon with their towpath trail skirting the old Champlain Canal on your left. This undeveloped area is about as close as you’ll ever get to ride along the original canal through its surroundings. You can almost hear the clop-clop-clop of the mules’ hoofs. At 5.3 miles from Waterford, you’ll arrive at a trailhead with parking for 4-5 cars at Upper Newton Rd.

The On-Road Path North of Momentive

The North End Trail Head

Just across the road from the trailhead is evidence of construction of the new trail. The trail follows the towpath of the water-filled dug canal.

Natural State of the Champlain Canal Trail (2016)

This will be part of the Empire State Trail north connecting New York City to Canada. Go here for more detail on the currently rideable portions of the Champlain Canal Trail at Waterford.

MAP Champlain Canal Trail Upper Newtown Rd. 7-15-20

Afterword – learn more – Go here for a Chronology Champlain Canal.

The Champlain Canal Trail is a major component of the NYC-Canadian/USA border portion of the Empire State Trail. 

People on bicycles can make a detour from their tour of the Erie Canalway Trail as it passes through Cohoes to visit Waterford and the Champlain Canal Trail. A round trip from the Corning Riverfront Park in Albany to the preset end of the Champlain Canal Trail and return is a great one-day ride. See The Black Bridge and Beyond.

Alert Cyclist John M. provided much of the detail for this post.

+++++

Leave a comment

Filed under Champlain Canal Trail, Empire State Trail, Waterford

Get Out and Ride While the Leaves are Falling

While COVID-19 has eliminated or moderated several bicycle-related activities, the fine early fall weather provided plenty of opportunities for social distanced rides. Looking ahead, there is some nice riding in late fall and winter whether for recreation/exercise or errands/work. Here are a few riding tips to encourage your riding and to keep you safe:

  • Check your lights front and rear. “Too many lights” are just about right in the low light, fall and winter conditions. Your lights are to make you visible (both day and night), but also to avoid those hidden ruts, potholes, and bumps in the street. Road debris at night is another hazard which good front lighting will help you avoid.
  • Add a helmet or head-mounted lamp to help see those potholes, debris, etc. at night. While a front light in blink mode makes people more aware of your presence, the headlamp helps you see obstacles. The advantage of a headlamp is that when you move your head, the light goes with you. When on trails with little or no street lighting, both the headlamp and front light (in steady mode) will light the path.
  • Replace the batteries. Keep your re-chargeables charged.
  • Have someone view your bicycle from behind in the dark with the lights “on.” Ensure that your gear or clothing does not block the light beams (front and rear) and that the rear light(s) aim toward following vehicles.
  • Spoke lights or spoke reflectors are both fun and provide visibility from the side.
  • Watch other people on bicycles and judge their visibility index as a guide to improving your own.
  • Add an extra “blinky light” front and rear and use them both as nighttime supplements and as “daytime running lights.”
  • Use a helmet-mounted rear-facing light.

tumblr_a740c60c181450a7cf49211b1362a853_23b1ebfc_500

  • You will probably ride safer and smarter if you are comfortable – so plan your riding gear accordingly. Think layers.
  • As you bundle up, look at your outer layer. If it is dark in color, either choose something that is not or pick up a reflective vest from your locally owned hardware or big box home center.
  • Wet leaves and snow are slippery so anticipate your stops and turns.
  • Pay special attention to puddles of water or clumps of leaves as they can mask the plentiful potholes, ruts, utility caps, and craters in the paved surface.
  • Recall that some pavement markings can also be slippery when wet or extra slippery when covered with wet leaves, snow, or ice.
  • Keep your chain clean and lubricated (especially after riding in melted slush).
  • You might want to inspect your tires for wear. You might swap the front to the rear (since the rear takes the most weight and wears quicker). If planning to ride in snow, you might invest in wider, knobby tires for better traction (if your bike accepts them).
  •  Consider reducing tire pressures from max by 5 to 10 psi for better grip.
  • Sunglasses are very important this time of year as well. With the days getting shorter, there is a greater chance you will finishing or starting a ride in low light conditions. Switch your tinted lenses to a rose or clear lens for better visibility in low light conditions.
  • When riding into that low fall sun, remember that the people in cars behind may not see you, as they also will be blinded.
  • Plan your braking and turns to avoid a spill.
  • Be mindful of slippery metal surfaces (such as utility covers and grates).
  • Fall and winter is a good time to get ready for next year’s riding with a tune up from one of our local bicycle shops. This is a good time to support your local shop and to help them over the slower winter season. November through March is good time to get that special attention from your bicycle mechanic. Find out where at – https://albanybicyclecoalition.com/resources/

Other winter riding tips –

To enjoy low stress, safe cycling, plan your route with the free, interactive CapitalNYBikeMaphttps://albanybicyclecoalition.com/albany_bike_map/

To find more bicycle-related events, go to – https://albanybicyclecoalition.com/upcoming-events/  

#####

1 Comment

Filed under COVID-19, Lighting, Local Bike Rides, Rides, Winter Cycling

Patroon Creek Greenway Trail Ride II

Introduction – The Capital District Transportation Committee’s Capital District Trails Plan envisions a network of core trails for the capital region.  The Patroon Greenway, connecting the Albany Waterfront to the Albany Pine Bush Preserve, is one of six core Albany County trail components of that planned network. 

Other better known core trails include the Albany County Helderberg-Hudson Rail Trail, the South End Bikeway Connector and the Mohawk-Hudson Bike-Hike Trail. 

The initial detailed proposal for the Patroon Greenway done by the Capital District Transportation Committee in 2004 is available on their website and is linked at the end of this document.  Over the past sixteen years there has been no significant progress toward making this trail a reality.  Three recent developments make this an ideal time to take a good look at this project:  the recently funded Albany County Skyway and the newly completed Patroon Creek Daylighting, and the installation of wayfinding signage on the existing Six Mile Waterworks trail.

The Ride – On Sunday August 30,2020, Aaron Corman, Glenn Sandberg, Ed Brennan, Mark Maniak, Rob Carle and Shelly Nevard met up at Quackenbush Square to review the potential for a city street route from the forthcoming Albany Skyway to the Patroon Creek Greenway.  The Albany Skyway will provide cyclists and pedestrians a bridge over I-787 from the waterfront and the Corning Riverfront Park section of the Empire State Trail to Broadway next to Quackenbush Square and the Albany Visitors Center.   Our initial destination was Tivoli Lake Preserve which was the endpoint or our Patroon Creek Greenway I ride in November 2019.  That ride began at Six Mile Waterworks. 

The Skyway plan is show below.  It would take a little used ramp from Quay Street by the waterfront over I-787 to where it merges with a ramp from Southbound I-787 to connect to Broadway at the base of Clinton Avenue.

The picture below shows where this ramp meets Broadway.  The right lane of the ramp (left side of photo) would be limited to pedestrians and cyclists.  An Albany Planning Department employee recently remarked that cyclists would be expected to walk their bikes over the Skyway.

We crossed Broadway and continued up Clinton Avenue two blocks to Ten Broeck Street.  Note there are currently no bike lanes along this section of Clinton.  The Clinton bike lanes begin at Ten Broeck.  It was suggested by the Planning Department that improvements to this area might bring bike and pedestrian accommodations to these last two blocks.  Hopefully, that will mean the Clinton bike lanes will be continued to Broadway.  It is interesting to note that there are also plans underway to improve Federal Park which is on the North side of Clinton between Broadway and Pearl.  These improvements along with the Skyway can be expected to bring significant increases in foot and bike traffic.  This block is shown below from the perspective of Clinton and Broadway.  Clinton is certainly wide enough for bike lanes if there is the will to disrupt current traffic patterns.

The group turned right on Ten Broeck Street which has bike lanes until it meets Livingston Avenue.  Note the car parked in the bike lane.   Many Albany drives assume bike lanes are in fact an invitation to double park.

When Ten Broeck crosses Livingston it becomes Manning Blvd and the bike lanes cease.  We continued along Manning.  We found this part of Manning to be a wide quiet street with a gentle curving incline up toward our destination.  The green roofed public housing we passed on Manning is shown below.

The hill up Manning is shown below.  There appears to be plenty of room here for bike lanes.  A pedestrian bridge overpasses Manning.  It provides a connection from Colonie Street.  We do not know if the bridge permits bikes. 

Arbor Hill Park is shown on the left of Manning below and Lark Park on the right.  It should be noted there are instances of diagonal parking along Manning that could be hazardous to cyclists.  One such spot is partially shown below.

Bike lanes (aka parking lanes to many) resume where Manning Crosses Lark Street.  These bike lanes also provide a buffer zone between cyclists and traffic.

As Manning approaches the Route 9 overpass, it becomes Northern Blvd.  The buffered bike lanes continue.

It is interesting to note that after crossing Route 9 the buffer zone switches from providing space between cyclists and traffic to protecting cyclists from the door zone of parked cars.

We followed Northern Blvd to where another small disconnected section of Manning Blvd. provides access to the Tivoli Lake Preserve.  The intersection of this Manning Blvd and Northern Blvd is shown below.  The old Livingston High School (now apartments) is in the background.  Kipp Tech Valley Middle School (not shown) is on the right.

This section of Manning ends where two gravel trails begin in Tivoli Park.  One trail goes to the newly “daylighted” Patroon Creek.  A photo of that trail from our November ride is shown below.

The other trail is being rehabilitated and not yet reopened.  It goes through the park, around the lake and exits on Livingston Avenue near Ontario.  Unfortunately, it was recently announced this trail is to be limited to foot traffic.   This policy would need to be changed and that trail widened if Tivoli Park were to be used as a bike connection to Livingston Avenue as discussed below.

The second leg of our Patroon Creek Greenway Ride II explored on street options from the Livingston Avenue Tivoli Park entrance by Ontario to Everett Rd.  The original CDTC Patroon Creek Greenway plan from Everett Road to Tivoli Park required large capital expenditures – especially the need to build a cantilever bridge along I90 and improve an old railroad bridge to cross the RR tracks.  There will also be safety issues to contend with due to the proximity of the railroad tracks and high speed Amtrak trains.  To make the Patroon Creek Trail happen in the nearer term, there will need to be some interim on road sections.

Our group rode around Tivoli Park and down Livingston Avenue noting the Livingston Avenue parking lot as one possible exit of a path thru Tivoli Park as well as the currently gated exit by Livingston near Ontario Street.  The latter path exit is shown below.

We continued west on Livingston Avenue for about a block and turned right on Terminal Street.  Livingston Avenue is a fairly busy road with no bike lanes.  Terminal Street did not appear busy, but our ride was held on a Sunday.   This is the start of an industrial/warehouse area that can expect to have some truck traffic.

There is also a hill on Terminal Street leading down to Commerce Avenue where we turned left.  The hill on Terminal Street is shown below.  It should be noted that the existing road did not appear wide enough to support bike lanes.  On street parking did not appear to be an issue.  Using Manning to connect to Commerce as an alternative would encounter much more on street parking and perhaps more traffic.

Along Commerce Avenue we noted the spot where the famous Engine 999 was constructed, “the first creation of man in the history of time to travel achieve 100 miles per hour”!

We also explored Industrial Park Road looking for access to the existing Patroon Creek Trail by way of the I90 railroad underpass, but found access blocked by fencing at the CDTA complex.  During last November’s ride we found this potential part of the trail was very close to the rail tracks and the space for a bike path under I90 was very narrow.  We think the railroad would object to the trail here.   At the very least, fencing of some sort separating bikes and pedestrians from the rails would be required.

We continued west down Commerce Avenue, which becomes Watervliet Avenue before it ends at busy Everett Road.  Commerce and Watervliet Avenue appeared wide enough to support bike lanes.  While I do not recall prohibitions against on street parking, none was observed.  Our ride conference at Everett Road is shown below shortly before we headed back to our starting point.  Our consensus was that our modified on street/Tivoli Park Trail Patroon Creek Route would need to meet up with the remainder of the Patroon Creek Trail at Everett Road.

As noted in the analysis of our November 2019 ride, the original Capital District Transportation Committee studies imagined that the Patroon Creek Trail will go under Everett Road between I-90 and the train tracks.  The CDTC study provided accessibility of the trail to and from Everett Road via construction of a “Dutch Stair”.  We also noted that significant signaling improvements would be needed on Everett Road to permit safe pedestrian and bike travel to cross the I90 ramps.  The cost of the Dutch stair and traffic signaling are probably the greatest hurdles to connecting our modified route to the rest of the Patroon Creek Trail running from Everett Road to Fuller Road.  The political issues around disrupting motor vehicle traffic flow are also significant.

The arrow in the picture below shows imagined ped/bike travel along the sidewalk of Everett Road from the area where the Dutch stair would come up from the Patroon Creek Tail below.  The “S” marks show where signaling improvements would be needed to permit safe ped/bike crossings of the I-90 ramps.  Bikes would likely need to be walked and/or the sidewalk significantly widened.

In the original CDTC Study, the Patroon Creek Greenway Trail passes under Everett and continues on north side of I-90 south of the railroad tracks.  It then uses a cantilever bridge along the north side of I-90 to cross the railroad tracks.  It would then cut back under I-90 using Anderson Rd.  An approximation of this route is shown below.

From Anderson Road the CDTC Plan envisions crossing the railroad tracks by redeveloping an abandoned railroad trestle to a point near the Freihofer (now Bimbo) Bakery site.  Here it is also not far from the Tivoli Park Patroon Creek Daylighting Trail as shown below.  The Cantilever Bridge and rail trestle rehabilitation envisioned in the original CDTC plan would also require large capital expenditures that would greatly increase the costs of the Patroon Creek Greenway.  Such costs are over and above significant costs of acquiring rights to and improving the lengthy trail itself. 

Conclusion – The forthcoming Albany Skyway and Patroon Creek Daylighting project provide a singular opportunity to kick off a campaign for the long dormant Patroon Creek Greenway plan that has been collecting dust in CDTC’s archives.  COVID has also led to a substantial increase in the number of people turning to cycling and trail hiking as a safe means of getting exercise and enjoying the out of doors.  The long awaited South End Connector has also contributed to rising local trail use for those that have access to it.  It is great that the Patroon Creek Daylighting Project and the other Tivoli Lake Preserve trail rehabilitation we saw will provide such recreational access to Albany’s West End and Arbor Hill citizens.  Connecting the Albany Skyway and Patroon Creek Daylighting project could be phase I of the larger Patroon Creek Greenway.  It would not only open up Tivoli Lake Preserve to a great many more Albany area citizens, it will also provide a safe bike route for West End and Arbor Hill citizens to the waterfront, the downtown theater district, the Empire State Trail/Mohawk-Hudson Bike-Hike Trail and the Albany County Rail Trail.

It is appears that the heaviest lifting for making the whole Patroon Creek Greenway Trail a reality lies in the middle section from Everett Road to west end of Tivoli Lake Preserve.  This section involves major expenditures to make Everett Road accessible from the trail and safe for pedestrians and cyclists.  Those improvements may also run head on into competing interests of motorists.  The original CDTC plan also entails major capital outlays for a cantilever bridge along I90 and rehabilitation of a railroad trestle.  The on street alternative route from Tivoli Park to Everett Road that we explored would also require spending for bike/ped accommodations along a short section of Livingston Ave, Terminal Street and Commerce Avenue-Watervliet Extension.  The project can expect resistance on this section from motorists, especially those concerned with trucking.  Limiting parking on the block of Livingston from Ontario to Terminal would also impact some residents.  We believe the economic costs and political battles that would need to be won to bring about either the original CDTC plan or a modified on street plan requires putting off this section of the Greenway for a later stage. 

The section of the trail from Everett Road to the Six Mile Waterworks also has challenges.  Providing safe access to the west end of the trail from Six Mile Waterworks across Fuller Road and its traffic circle at the I90 interchange will be difficult.  It will likely require costly traffic engineering and signaling changes and result in some motor traffic disruption.  As noted in our November report there was no traffic circle when the original CDTC traffic study was done.  Ownership issues for a new trail from the Circle to the start of the trail behind Ultrapet will need to be studied.  A crossing signal for where the trail crosses Central Avenue will also likely be required.  While it appears much of the trail over this section is subject to various public utility easements, there will need to be some coordination to formalize a public bike-hike trail.  The recent local success of building the Albany-Hudson Electric Trail over such a public utility right of way gives us reason to believe this can happen.

If the first stage of the Greenway outlined above can be achieved, we are more likely to find the political will to find funds and take on competing interests for other stages of the Greenway.   Since the section from Everett Road or at least Central Avenue to the Six Mile Waterworks is less costly in terms of capital and political costs, this might be considered for a second stage.   The heavy lift from Everett Road to Tivoli Park may have to wait until other ends of the trail are in use and demand exists for the costly connector in between.  The South End Connector is an example of how this process might successfully develop.

Maps

Proposed Stage 1 Hudson River/Skyway to Tivoli Lake Preserve

Proposed Stage 2a  Six Mile Waterworks to Central Avenue at Yardboro Avenue

Proposed Stage 2b Central Avenue at Yardboro Avenue to Everett Road

Proposed Stage 3 Everett Road to Tivoli Lake Preserve

Prior Albany Bicycle Coalition Reports

·      Downtown Albany and Patroon Creek https://albanybicyclecoalition.com/2020/02/03/downtown-albany-and-patroon-creek/

·      Patroon Creek Greenway Trail Ride https://albanybicyclecoalition.com/2019/12/11/patroon-creek-greenway-trail-ride-11-19/

·      Patroon Greenway Project – Yardboro Ave. to Everett Rd. https://albanybicyclecoalition.com/2019/11/23/patroon-greenway-project-yardboro-ave-to-everett-rd/

Capital District Transportation Committee Studies

3 Comments

Filed under Capital Trails-New York, City Review, Patroon Greenway