BETHLEHEM — More information is out on the upcoming Delaware Avenue improvements, which will begin construction this summer.
“The idea has always been let’s fix up our Main Street. Let’s fix up our town center,” said Supervisor John Clarkson at an informational meeting held Tuesday, Feb. 9, where details on the project were released and public input was collected.
“It’s about improving transportation, it’s about improving pedestrian and bicycle access and safety and it’s very much about improving our back corner business district. Four Corners is now the happening in the Capital Region, or at least in our town. It’s our town center and it’s a town center we enjoy.”
“Though the project is limited to Delaware Avenue from Elsmere past the Four Corners, its impact will be felt across the town,” he said.
When the improvements were proposed in 2008, the funds were not available for the changes, but today they are. A $1.2 million grant from the New York State Department of Transportation and $1.9 million provided by the town has made this possible. The federal aid is related specifically to roadway improvements and cannot be used for beautification efforts.
Changes include planting roughly 100 trees planted along the street using a Garden Club program, improved sidewalks and parking along the street and the addition of crosswalks and signaled beepers across from the Bethlehem Public Library, at Adams Street connecting to the Albany County Rail Trail and across from Stewart’s Shop on Delaware Avenue, where middle school students often cross to get to school and back. Crosswalks will be decorative, using red brick. Other street entrances to the rail trail will also be enhanced.
Essentially, the changes will blend the style and feel of the improvements made to Four Corners two years ago into Delaware Avenue.
Bidding by construction groups will be reviewed in Fall 2016 after plans are finalized this spring.
Where there is no definition or ambiguous separation between vehicular and pedestrian areas, once the project is completed, the roadway will have clear definition. Bicycle lanes were considered during Delaware Avenue Improvement project meetings, which brought together members of town board and town departments, community groups and affected businesses. However, because of the narrowness of Delaware Avenue, this option was not possible. Bikers can still use the sidewalks or roadways to travel, and the Albany County Railroad will be fully paved this summer for bikers to use.
“If we had eliminated parking we could have given a limited bike lame, but that’s really not what we wanted because we wanted to maintain the parking there,” thus improving the business interest there, explained Monika King, Town of Bethlehem senior engineer.
Benches, bike racks and pedestrian-level lighting, supplementing taller street lamps, will also be added along the street, and areas have been set aside along the street that could become small gardens.
The railroad overpass on Delaware Avenue will see the most improvements, as a mural will be added to the wall there, a “Welcome to Delmar” sign is to be added, and refurbished yellow bricks, recovered while removing pavement on Kenwood Avenue, will be added to the border of sidewalks in this area.
“We noticed while travelling under the bridge that that area had become really corroded, so we definitely wanted to add improvements there, and we are going to fix some of those drainage issues there,” said King in reference to the problems that arise in the areas during rainy periods.
Public input on the project is also being sought online. To express your thoughts on the Delaware Avenue improvement project, visit townofbethlehem.org.