The Mohawk Towpath Scenic Byway Coalition and the Town of Colonie are seeking the public’s opinion on plans to improve Cohoes Crescent Road.
After completing a year-long study, members of the coalition presented five different alternatives to reconstruct the heavily trafficked, two-and-a-half mile road between Route 9 in Colonie and the Cohoes City limits. A public information session will be held on Thursday, Feb. 14, at 6:30 p.m. at the Town of Colonie Public Operations Center at 347 Old Niskayuna Road.
More than 6,000 vehicles drive on the Cohoes Crescent Road daily. It follows the path of the Mohawk River and is one of the main connectors for Clifton Park to 787. Mohawk Towpath Byway Executive Director Eric Hamilton said the road is deteriorating from all of the use and has “relatively narrow travel lanes.” Without a sidewalk or bike lane, the road is not pedestrian or bike friendly, he said..
Members of the coalition, Colonie Director of Planning Economic Development Joe LaCivita and Project Manager Ted Kolankowski of Barton and Loguidice all preferred option four when considering the five sets of solutions. The plan includes resurfacing the existing highway as well as incorporating bike/pedestrian amenities, a multi-use pathway along the east side (between the river and the road) and pull-off points. A short portion of the road would need to be realigned to move it further away from the river, Hamilton said.
“The view of the river is one of the principal attractions, particularly on that section of the Byway because you’re so close to the river,” Hamilton said.
Also under consideration is the addition of a small park and kiosk to describe the history of the area. This alternative would also create certain pocket park areas for access to the water for fishing, canoeing and kayaking.
“Whenever you improve accessibility to water, bike paths, it’s good,” LaCivita said. “We’re becoming more of walkable, bikeable type of public. This is what we’re trying to get. I think this type of work is definitely needed.”
The favored option four would cost roughly $3.7 million, LaCivita said. The other projects range in cost from $2.1 million to $4.9 million, and include continuing to pave the road in short sections over a longer period of time.
Kolankowski said although option four may be a little more costly, it is a safer choice because “people are going to be naturally drawn to the river and access points along the way.”
The road was built on the old towpath of the original Eerie Canal, between the locks of Cohoes and the Aqueduct crossing at Crescent, Colonie Historian Kevin Franklin said.
“The road bed itself is built on the old berm of the Eerie Canal. The area has a tremendous amount of history and has a tremendous amount of potential because of that history,” Franklin said.
After receiving public comment, the coalition will start seeking state and federal money to improve the highway. Kolankowski said realistically they’re looking at a five-year timeline for the project, which includes getting the funding, design work done and approvals in place.
But the first step is bringing their ideas to the public.
“We want to hear they’re excited about the project and (it’s) something they would use and support,” Kolankowski said. “It’s going to provide a lot of very nice interconnections to the trail system along the more direct connection between the Mohawk Hudson Bikeway, which goes south to Albany, and the byway system to the Saratoga County side.”
The Mohawk Towpath Scenic Byway Coalition will be receiving comments on the study through April 1. Comments can be mailed to the Coalition at P O Box 90, Clifton Park, NY 12065.